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Posted: 3:20 a.m. Monday, May 13, 2013

Gwinnett hospital adds ER wait times to billboards


Eastside Medical Center billboard photo
Sandra Parrish, News/Talk WSB
Eastside Medical Center in Snellville is hoping that by telling drivers of shorter wait times at the emergency room, more will come in if they need help.

By Sandra Parrish


If you've driven down Ronald Reagan Parkway towards Snellville recently, you may have noticed an unusual billboard.

The new sign lets drivers know just how long they can expect to wait in the emergency room at nearby Eastside Medical Center.

“We didn’t even look at a billboard opportunity until the average was less than 30 minutes,” says CEO Kim Ryan.

She tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish wait times are usually between 10 and 12 minutes.

HCA Healthcare, which operates the hospital, has billboards in other states and decided to bring the idea to Georgia.

“I’m a former emergency room nurse... so I knew it’s very important for patients, who believe that they are acutely ill or injured, to be seen by a provider as quickly as possible,” she says.

Ryan says those times are based on a rolling four-hour average and updated every 30 minutes.  The time begins from when the patient first walks into the ER until they are seen by a doctor, an advanced practice nurse, or physician assistant.

And while she realizes those with true emergencies would come regardless, Ryan believes it will help those who may be on the fence as to whether they need to be seen.

Angela Johnson of Snellville believes it will be a convenience to some, but doesn't think knowing the wait times would matter for her.

“If one of my children or myself is sick, then I’m going to go to the hospital,” she says.  “It wouldn’t matter how long I had to wait.”

Eastside now has a second billboard along Lawrenceville Highway in Lilburn and the times are also displayed on the hospital's website and on an app for smart phones.



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