Tuesday, December 6, 2022
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ER crisis: Trickle-down effect




The ER crisis which was detailed on the front page of the paper reflected just a small sliver of the problem of access to medical care. [“Hospital’s night of ‘‘chaos’ illustrates state’s ER crisis,” Nov. 21, A1].

ER’s are overwhelmed with increased wait times. However, there was a statement made that implied that access to care in urgent care facilities or primary care is easier. That is far from the case. I serve as a physician in one of the UW Urgent Care Clinics, and we have seen our wait times balloon in recent years. It is not uncommon to see wait times of four to six hours. Fortunately, for many patients, there is the option of going home and coming back, but that is still a far cry from a simple 15-20 minute wait that patients used to have. There also is a trickle-down effect. Time and again, patients start out by telling me that the reason they came to urgent care was because they couldn’t get into the primary care provider’s office.

Most recently, someone said that the next available appointment she could get was in February! That’s for primary care!

This is shaping up to be a particularly tough cold, flu and COVID season. I am anxious about the months ahead.

Steve Dudley, M.D., Seattle

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