Dr. Mario Quintanilla (Dr. Q), owner of Bellaire ER, said that waiting times in some of Houston’s area hospital are exceeding 10 hours. Even a 5 hour wait is torturous if you are feeling sick and miserable. Independent emergency rooms, which usually have wait times of under 15 minutes, can help lessen the workload on the often over-burdened and under-staffed emergency rooms of large hospitals.
Long emergency room wait times are not an exclusive Houston area problem but rather a national problem. It is also an a problem with our neighbor to the north, Canada. A 2012 article in the online publication TheSpec.com stated that Canada’s ER wait times are among the worst of any developed country in the world. The article also mentioned that the average wait time in Ontario’s emergency rooms was 7 to 9 hours.
Dr. John Maa, assistant professor of surgery at the University of California at San Francisco, wrote about the delays his mother encountered when she went to a hospital emergency room with an irregular heartbeat. She was told she would have to wait almost four days before she would get the medical procedures she needed. Unfortunately, she died the next day. Writing in the New England Journal of Medicine he said, “A lengthy wait for elective surgery can be irritating, but it is rarely deadly.” He also said that wait times have the greatest impact on those who need emergency treatment, such as heart attacks, serious infections, and traumatic injuries.
“I have talked to many patients in my 15+ years as an emergency room doctor and their primary concern is the waiting time and the secondary concern is convenience or location,” said Dr. Q. He has seen many changes and improvements in medical care and medical devices during his medical career but one thing that has not changed are the long waiting times.
Part of the problem is that many hospitals have closed during the most recent decades. And other causes are chronic underfunding and under staffing of existing hospitals and their emergency rooms. California Congressman Gary Miller said “Hospitals must provide emergency treatment to all who walk through the door, regardless of their citizenship status or ability to pay.”
Bellaire ER seems to have found a niche in the heart of Houston by delivering medical service to the residents nearby. Stewart Hoffer wrote, “Just 5 minutes from my house. I have taken my son here twice – once for dehydration (very scary experience) and once for an ear infection. Both times were at night, and both were FANTASTIC. No wait.” And Julieta Davidson wrote, “I didn’t even have to wait for hours to be seen! The facility was super clean which is always something I look forward to when thinking healthcare.” Bellaire ER is located at 5302 Bellaire Blvd in Bellaire, Texas and their website is found at BellaireER.com.