ORLANDO, Fla. – Emergency room wait times are extremely high amid the omicron surge in Central Florida.
On Thursday, Orlando Regional Medical Center’s website showed a wait time greater than eight hours.
EMS medical director Dr. Todd Husty said the extended time spent in waiting rooms is due to a high volume of people in need of assistance mixed with the staffing shortage many hospitals are facing currently.
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Sergio Herrera spent hours and even days waiting to get help for his wife at AdventHealth Hospital.
Herrera said he brought her to the hospital Monday because she was experiencing shortness of breath.
He said the healthcare workers provided them with prescriptions for medication and instructed them to return home.
Herrera said his wife took the antibiotics Tuesday, but it made matters worse.
“She was vomiting, she just threw up all the medication,” he said.
They came back to the emergency room Wednesday, where the couple and several other people waited for assistance.
“It’s heartbreaking, five hours or more...,” Herrera said.
Multiple hospitals in the area are facing the same issues. Healthcare workers are strained as COVID-19 cases rise.
Hundreds of people are coming into emergency rooms around Central Florida, but not for the right reasons. Dr. Husty said that is a huge problem.
“If you have mild symptoms which many people have with omicron, stuffy nose, cough a little sore throat, you know you’re not dying. You’re not even close. Do you need to go anywhere? No, you need to stay home unless it gets worse,” he said.
Dr. Husty stresses emergency rooms are for emergencies.
“You’re not in an emergency when you are just scared or nervous,” he said.
He emphasizes when people show up without emergencies, they are adding more pressure on healthcare workers and making it more difficult for others to get the help they need.
“I don’t know what to do right now sometimes I just look at heaven and the sky and tell the lord to help me out because I don’t have the strength… I’m losing the strength,” Herrera said.
Herrera says his wife is battling a serious case of pneumonia and COVID-19.
After days of waiting to be seen, he said she is finally being treated.
Dr. Husty mentioned hospitals are triaging. This means healthcare workers are taking care of people in the worst conditions first.
This is another reason you could be waiting a while to be seen.