Southern Illinois Healthcare dealing with long emergency room wait times

Leaders at Southern Illinois Healthcare (SIH) said they have more than 150 job openings, which is part of the reason emergency room wait times can be long.
Published: Oct. 20, 2022 at 6:09 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HERRIN, Ill. (KFVS) - COVID-19 cases are down but the challenges created by the pandemic are having lingering effects on Heartland hospitals.

Leaders at Southern Illinois Healthcare (SIH) said they have more than 150 job openings across the SIH system.

That’s part of the reason emergency room wait times can be long.

“We’ve been on quite a ride in terms of the emergency room over the last few years as everyone knows,” said Dr. Joshua Miksanek, SIH Herrin Hospital Medical Director of Emergency.

Miksanek said to some extent they’re back to normal after the surge of COVID-19.

“What’s different now is that the staff at Herrin ER look a lot different. I’ve lost a lot of nurses, that have been in the ER for many years and some have been replaced with people that have been here awhile, some are new faces. And we find ourselves in a bit of a crisis in terms of ability to fully staff the hospital at times,” said Miksanek.

According to a survey by AMN Healthcare, 85 percent of healthcare providers are experiencing a shortage of healthcare professionals.

Miksanek said that some treatments may look different right now.

Including this story, he shared with us earlier about a patient.

“They were getting IV’s in the waiting room. And that’s something that I never thought I would see. It’s something that big hospitals, especially on the west coast we’re doing during covid, their whole hospitals were filled with patients in the ER and they had to treat patients out of the waiting room. And that’s kind of where we are some days here. We’re doing things out of the waiting room we’ve never done and so we’re doing creative things to try to get you the care you need as quick as we can,” said Miksanek.

Miksanek clears up the air about the traige process in the waiting room.

“ER and triage are a married couple. So triage is this concept that when you come to the ER, we have a qualified experienced person that evaluates you, finds out the basics of what is going on with you and help decide when we have 1 bed, and 5 patients who will be the first person to get that bed,” said Miksanek.

With the shortage of medical professionals, Chief Nursing Officer Jennifer Harre said the SIH system is working on ways to insure people get the care they need.

“We are working very hard at how, where do we surge patients, how do we stretch our capacity, what are other places that we can safely put them. Because what we do know is not, our goal is not to keep them in the emergency department because we need those beds available for those that are coming in via EMS or walking into our emergency department,” said Harre.

Harre also mentions that patients are being abusive towards the healthcare professionals.

“Just for our patients to also be kind to our healthcare workers, that is a shift that I mean we have seen that it’s significant the abuse that our healthcare workers are taking from our patients,” said Harre.

She also adds that SIH is working with local College and Universities to help fill the void.

“We’re also working with the local nursing schools, Dr. Miksanek had spoke to the longevity of nursing and so how do we support our nursing schools . SIU in Carbondale, they’re getting ready to graduate their first traditional BSN program students in the spring of 2023. We have a great working relationship there, we have a great working relationship with our community colleges,” said Harre.

Even with wait times that could take longer than expected, Dr. Miksanek is still encouraging people to show up at the ER if they feel they need too.

“You know I don’t want to tell anybody not to come to the ER. You know people always say you know there’s people that come to the ER that aren’t sick, the ER society and as an ER doctor, we believe that if you believe you’re having an emergency you should come to the emergency department,” said Miksanek.

Dr. Miksanek also mentions that if their hospital is full they will try and transfer patients to another hospital in their system.

He also goes on to say that the wait times in the ER vary every single day.

There are fewer COVID-19 Patients in Kentucky Hospitals than at nearly any point during the last two years.

That’s according to a COVID-19 Update from Governor Andy Beshear.

The governor also says the number of new cases reported each week continues to decline, and called the most recent data encouraging.

Nearly all Kentucky Counties are at the “LOW COMMUNITY LEVEL.”

Kentucky Health officials reported 32 hundred new cases this week.

That’s down from more than 9 thousand new cases about a month ago.