What you need to know about your local ER before emergency strikes

If you or a loved one are sick or injured and in need of immediate medical care, you have a number of options for where and how you receive that care. That’s why it’s so important to know where to go before an emergency strikes.

While urgent care facilities are able to treat certain injuries and illnesses, the services provided are usually somewhat limited when it comes to addressing more significant health concerns. For life-threatening situations involving heart attacks, strokes, trauma and other advanced needs, there are many reasons patients should seek medical attention in an emergency department that is connected to a full hospital as opposed to a standalone clinic. In fact, there are a lot of things an emergency department has to ensure patients are receiving the best care possible.

Here are ten things to know about your local emergency department.

1. High-quality emergency care

Innovation and expertise combined with compassion from hospital staff are important elements in any emergency care setting, and all of that goes into providing high-quality emergency care. Choose a hospital ER that is run by a dedicated team of expert personnel and that provides patient-centered care that treats all of you — not just your illness or injury. That way, you can always be confident in the care you receive, no matter the emergency.

2. Get care FAST when experiencing stroke symptoms

The American Stroke Association estimates that nearly 800,000 people have a stroke every year, with about 3 in 4 being first-time incidents. You might not even know you’re experiencing a stroke, only that it’s important to get some help right away. So prepare by choosing an Emergency Department with Advanced Certification as a Primary Stroke Center for rapid and advanced diagnosis and treatments. Educate yourself on how to recognize the symptoms of stroke.

3. Advanced trauma certification

As defined by the American College of Surgeons, Level III trauma centers are those that demonstrate the ability to provide rapid assessment, resuscitation, surgery, intensive care and stabilization of injured patients and emergency operations. Features and functions include 24-hour immediate care by physicians, the availability of surgeons and anesthesiologists, a quality assessment program and continued education for health personnel and the trauma team. All of these elements are important for getting immediate, quality care.

4. Board Certified emergency medicine physicians

The American Board of Physician Specialties certifies physicians as qualified medical specialists in emergency medicine. Physicians must be graduates of a recognized college of medicine, have completed an approved residency training and have worked a certain number of hours in emergency medicine, to name just a few of the eligibility requirements. Knowing that all the physicians in your hospital Emergency Department are board certified will not only give you peace of mind but also provide the best of care in emergency situations.

5. Advanced practice clinicians and nurses with advanced emergency training

In a medical emergency, patients may not realize the severity of the issue or even the cause. That’s why it’s important for an Emergency Department to have a comprehensive team to accurately assess and treat the injury or illness in emergency situations.

Wentworth-Douglass Hospital offers truly comprehensive emergency care led by their team of physicians and advanced practitioners from Seacoast Emergency Physicians. With 38 providers staffing the emergency room at the hospital and the Wentworth-Douglass Express Care locations in Dover and Lee, patients have access to their expertise for both urgent and emergency care.

6. A Child Life Specialist program

It’s scary for anyone to be in a hospital emergency room, but even more so for children. A dedicated children’s program means that compassionate experts are available to help minimize fear and stress for children and their families. Age-appropriate education, activities and support are at the core of these programs, which includes learning new skills through play.

Children learn to cope with all the new people and unfamiliar things they’ll experience with help from a specialist who may also be on hand to distract children during procedures. Pre-surgery tours, classes for new siblings and connecting families to community resources for when your child leaves the hospital should all be part of the program.

7. A direct link to Mass General resources and expertise when needed

Not all hospitals are able to offer the equipment and expertise needed to treat every possible illness or injury or to provide the appropriate follow-up care, and having access to additional world-class care is important. Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in Dover, New Hampshire, for example, not only provides access to the highest level of care, but because it is a Mass General community hospital, it also has a direct link to Massachusetts General Hospital resources and expertise when needed.

8. Part of a hospital, with fast, on-site access to lifesaving care the moment you need it

Time matters in an emergency, so the ER you choose for your emergency medical treatment should be an emergency department that is fully staffed with board-certified advanced practitioners who are completely supported by a full-service hospital with specialized teams mobilized and ready to care for you.

9. Walk-in care centers for life’s little emergencies

If your situation doesn’t require lifesaving measures, look for immediate care options associated with a hospital. These can include prompt care for walk-in primary care needs, or express care for more urgent needs like a broken arm. These offerings provide patients options that fit their health care needs, while also ensuring the best possible care for those who need it most.

10. A long history of serving your community

When a hospital has been part of the community for a long period of time the staff learns just what that community needs and has the experience and expertise to fulfill those needs. That staff lives in the community, shops in local businesses, sends their kids to the local schools, and are dedicated to doing everything they can to help you no matter what your medical situation. When a hospital has served the community for decades, that dedication will continue to grow.

Health care with heart, expert staff, advanced facilities and constant striving to improve emergency care and rehabilitation are key to an ER and are elements you should look for in the ER in your community.

At Wentworth-Douglass Hospital, a not-for-profit organization, we provide high-quality emergency care, right here on the Seacoast. Our emergency department has advanced certification as a Primary Stroke Center and a Level III Adult and Pediatric Trauma Center, and utilizes the latest emergency protocols through our connection to Massachusetts General Hospital. Visit our website to learn more about our emergency care services.