Man Spends Nine Hours Waiting in Lynchburg E.R.

Image of Tom Sims' swollen foot.

Lynchburg, VA - Emergency rooms are notorious for long waits. An Abingdon man contacted ABC 13 News after he says he waited at Lynchburg General nine hours for treatment.

Why does it take an entire workday to get emergency care and what's the hospital doing to fix it?

Centra says there are reasons for the wait. Centra says its E.R. is one of the busiest in the state. A low-volume hospital sees 30,000 patients a year; at Centra, they see 100,000. That's one reason Tom Sims waited so long.

Sims knew he needed an emergency room when his foot swelled. Waiting for treatment himself, Sims was more concerned for the patients around him, like one elderly woman.

"Everyone's talking about how long it's taking, but she's starting breaking down crying because she said, 'I can't take the pain anymore. I just can't take it,'" said Sims.

Sims says he insisted to Centra staff the elderly woman in a wheelchair get care - and she did. Still, Sims waited himself several more hours.

"You go and talk initially to the trauma person and explain your injuries. And then eight, nine hours later, no one's ever checked on you," said Sims.

"That's very long. Absolutely. We don't ever want anyone to wait that long," said Dr. James Frenchik, director of operations at Centra's E.R.

Frenchik runs Centra's emergency room. He says staffing is not the issue, but the season is. It's influenza time, which means longer waits. Plus, the hospital's in the middle of switching out its CAT scans. They are down to one, and plan on having the new, faster ones in place by Christmas. That said, having enough beds is an ongoing concern.

"Space has always been an issue. We are always playing catch-up with space," said Frenchik.

The hospital works hard to be all things to all patients. A stroke, trauma and cardiac center all in one, Centra is a busy place.

"We are doing as much as we can to get to people as quickly as possible," said Frenchik.

Centra says if you are a cardiac, stroke, or trauma patient, you will not wait. Centra admits the wait is unfortunate. The truth is, there are days its very difficult to keep up.