Landing at the emergency room can be difficult any time of the year. But it’s especially fraught during the holidays when you may be far from home or entertaining out-of-town guests.
Susann Krueger, MS, nurse manager, says that Trinity’s ER treats an average of 90 patients a day most days of the year. However, there are traffic spikes during the holidays and community events that contribute to larger numbers of patients showing up for treatment.
“The holidays are definitely a busy time of year and it always seems we see an increase in volume the day after a holiday,” she said.
The holidays tend to be about excessive consumption: more alcohol, more salt, more sugar, more food in general. So, it’s no surprise that many holiday ER trips are because of overindulgence. It is important to remember that the rules of healthy living and consequences of poor choices are not suspended for the season.
Holiday mishaps at home also contribute to an increase in ER visits. Be careful when hanging decorations in hard to reach areas and look out for things in your home that could prove hazardous such as open fireplaces, poisonous plants like mistletoe and electrical issues.
Know When to Go the ER
Many health issues that arise during the holidays are not necessarily medical emergencies. Those that should be treated immediately include chest pain, stroke symptoms, excessive uncontrolled, bleeding or difficulty breathing. Severe stomach pain that is accompanied by other symptoms such as coughing up or vomiting blood, dizziness or fainting should also be treated immediately in the ER.
Stick with urgent care for sprained muscles, broken bones and cuts that need stitching up. Trinity Health FirstCare Walk- in Clinic offers convenient and immediate care for individuals experiencing a nonemergent illness or injury. Located at 408 Burdick Expressway East, FirstCare’s hours are 8 a.m.–8 p.m., Monday through Friday; 9 a.m.–5 p.m. weekends and holidays.
If you do end up at the hospital, be prepared to wait. ER staff treat patients in order of severity or illness, so your sprained ankle might get trumped by another person’s heart attack.
“We try to see everyone as quickly as possible, but we do need to prioritize patients by severity of illness. Our goal is to give the best medical care and customer service to all our patients,” Krueger said.
To make things easier for the ER staff, arrive with your i.d., a list of medications you use regularly, and an insurance card if you have one.
Enjoy the spirit of the season and be safe. If you do end up in the ER, remember the doctors and nurses are people too, and it’s their holiday season as well. A little holiday cheer, even in the emergency room, can go a long way.