You can never truly plan for a medical emergency, like a stroke or a heart attack. These health issues tend to catch people unaware, and when they do, they often require treatment in an emergency room (ER).
At Great Plains Health, we have a dedicated emergency services team ready to help, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You don't need to plan ahead or make an appointment. You can just come to us for emergency care in North Platte, Nebraska.
Here's what might happen during your visit, along with a few key details that can help both you and your family get through your medical emergency just a little easier.
Emergency department assessments and wait times
When you arrive, a nurse will take your vital signs and gather information about your symptoms. If the nurse determines that you are gravely ill, you'll be taken to the patient care area right away for treatment by one of our ER doctors.
Otherwise, you'll be guided back to the registration area to fill out paperwork. We'll work hard to see you as quickly as possible. But how long you'll wait depends upon how busy the emergency department is at that time and the number of people whose condition is more serious than yours.
We're proud of our brief wait times, which are far below the national average. But if lab tests or x-rays are a part of your treatment plan, they can take time to complete. In fact, you might have to wait up to four hours to get results back. If you feel worse while you're waiting, please let your nurse know.
We have a dedicated emergency services team ready to help, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
While you wait, avoid food and drink. You may need to have tests or procedures that require an empty stomach. Talk with your nurse if you have questions.
Things to tell the emergency department staff
The emergency department staff may not be aware of your medical background, and your ER doctor may not have access to your medical history until your chart has been made. That means our staff will likely ask you or your family members many questions about:
- Current vaccinations.
- Food or drug allergies.
- Health problems you've had, including the onset and duration of your illness, and what made you feel either better or worse.
- Medications you've taken in the last 15 days, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs. It's best to bring all of your medications in their containers with you when you come to the ER.
- Pain, including where it originates, how bad it hurts, how long the pain has been there, what makes it worse and what improves it.
- Physical or mental abuse.
- Pregnancy or breastfeeding status.
Please be open and honest when you answer these questions. We will preserve your confidentiality, and no judgments will be made. Our only objective is to care for you so you can feel better fast.
Visitors to the emergency department
While you're in the emergency department, your family and friends can be a source of great comfort. We encourage them to visit. If your ER nurse approves, they might also be able to assist with your care. But there are some restrictions in place, so we can ensure your safety and the safety of other people in the hospital:
- Only one or two visitors are permitted in the ER at one time.
- Visitors should stay at your bedside, and children should not be left unattended.
- No visitor should be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- No weapons are allowed on the campus.
- Your ER doctor may ask your visitors to leave during some procedures.
We also have a code of behavior to ensure a safe and friendly environment for patients, visitors and staff. No acts of violence, swearing, threats or verbal abuse directed toward other patients, relatives or staff members will be tolerated. An initial warning is given, but if the behavior continues, the staff, security or police will ask the person to leave.
Answers to common questions
Will you release my information to third parties?
Not without your approval. When you're admitted to the hospital from the emergency department, we'll give you a personal identification number (PIN). Information about your stay at the hospital will be released only to people with your PIN.
If you want to ensure that no one has information about your stay, you can refuse your PIN altogether. That way, the emergency department staff will not be able to release any information about your stay to any outside source without your written or verbal authorization.
What happens when it's time to go home?
When you are discharged, we'll provide you with:
- Discharge instructions.
- Medications, prescriptions or both.
- Appointments for further tests or follow-up.
- A letter for your primary care physician.
- A medical release or restrictions of activity for returning to work if needed.
Can I refill routine prescriptions in the emergency department?
No. The ER should not to be used to refill routine prescriptions. If your ER doctor determines that you need a refill of a medication, that refill will be small. You'll have just enough to tide you over until you can see your doctor. Typically, our ER doctors don't refill pain medications.
What should I do with my valuables?
It's best to ask a friend or relative to look after your valuables while you are getting emergency treatment. If your friends and family cannot keep your valuables, give them to the staff for placement in our safe. We're not responsible for any items that aren't formally placed in the safe.
Am I allowed to smoke in the hospital?
Great Plains Health is a tobacco-free campus. No one is permitted to smoke or use tobacco products—including cigarettes, chewing tobacco and cigars—on the campus. We can offer nicotine gum or patches if you're admitted to the hospital and find it hard to steer clear of tobacco.
Where can I give feedback on my emergency department experience?
If you or your family members have concerns or suggestions for improvement, or you'd like to share a compliment, talk to:
- Your ER doctor.
- Your ER nurse.
- The house supervisor. Ask your nurse to connect you, anytime day or night.
- Our patient experience officer. Call 308.568.7200.
- The ER director of nursing. Call 308.568.7605.
We also encourage you to fill out a patient satisfaction survey. We use the results to help us improve.