‘You can’t do this to people’: Patients say they waited 12 hours to be treated at hospital

Missouri patients say they waited 12 hours to be treated at Mercy South Hospital’s emergency room on Tuesday. (Source: KMOV)
Published: Aug. 25, 2023 at 8:19 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. (KMOV/Gray News) - Hospital patients in Missouri say they waited hours to be treated at Mercy South Hospital’s emergency room on Tuesday.

According to KMOV, the patients they spoke to said they waited 12 hours to be seen.

“You can’t do this to people,” patient Sharon Kohler said. “I just said, ‘I want to go home. Please let me go home.’”

Kohler’s aunt drove her to the hospital after a primary care doctor advised her to go to the emergency room because of continuous bleeding.

The pair said sitting in the packed waiting room was a nightmare.

“Anybody could have died,” Kohler’s aunt, Rita Menefee, said. “I would say 60, maybe 65. The whole room. Everyone was looking for chairs.”

An emergency room physician said the team works to see those in need the most first.

“We do the best we can to get the sickest people seen first and try to get everyone taken care of,” said Dr. John Fortney, Mercy Hospital emergency room physician.

According to Fortney, the longer wait times reflect the hospital worker shortage nationwide. He advises people to go to urgent care or call their primary doctor before coming to the emergency room.

“Because of the shortage of health care providers and workers, wait times are excessive, unfortunately,” Fortney said.

According to Mercy Hospital, the middle of the day and evenings are when hospitals are the busiest.

“It’s terrible that people have to deal with this,” Kohler said.

Menefee added, “There was no sympathy for anybody. There was no ‘we will be with you or I’m sorry we are short-staffed.’”

Hospital officials sent the following statement regarding the situation:

“Patients should consider, in non-emergency situations, whether their primary care physician or an urgent care would be an appropriate alternative to the emergency department where hospitals will prioritize the most serious conditions first which can lead to longer waits for other patients. Patients seeking quick care outside the emergency department are encouraged to visit mercynow.net where they can see their options among urgent care and clinics, in-person, on the phone or virtual visits. Anyone experiencing a medical emergency should call 911 for immediate assistance.”

Kohler and her aunt said they would never go to that emergency room again.