ER Wait Times At Your Finger Tips

By: Gulf Coast Medical Center
By: Gulf Coast Medical Center

Gulf Coast Medical Center has taken another step toward reducing waits times in its emergency department. Hospital President and CEO Brian Baumgardner announced today the hospital’s average ER wait time is now available via text messaging.

“Earlier this year, we became the only hospital in our area to post our average ER wait time on our website and digital billboard,” explained Baumgardner. “Today, we’ve taken the next step and made our average ER wait time available via text messaging. After texting 23000 and typing ER in the body of the text, users are asked to enter their zip code, which is followed by a text message with the hospital’s average ER wait time.”

Baumgardner says the technology is helping patients and the hospital address one of the most common complaints about emergency departments – long wait times.

“Patients with medical emergencies, such as cardiac, stroke and trauma, are always seen immediately,” said Baumgardner. “It’s the patient with the non-emergent condition who is benefiting from being able to know our average ER wait time before they come to the hospital.”

Times posted via text messaging or on the hospital’s website,, represent the average time it takes a patient to see a physician after arrival. After registration, patients are assessed by medical personnel before seeing a physician. Wait times are updated twice an hour and represent a four hour average. Times are approximate and provided for informational purposes only.

In 2008, more than 35,000 patients chose Gulf Coast Medical Center for their emergency care. Gulf Coast Medical Center is recognized by the state of Florida as a Primary Stroke Center. And, last September the hospital opened a helipad to assist in caring for patients needing air ambulance.

Emergency Department Director Sheila Bradt, RN, says, “The reaction to posting our average ER wait times online has been very positive. Our message to the community is they can choose where they want to receive emergency care. If they’re being transported to a hospital via ambulance and want to come to Gulf Coast Medical Center, they need to tell the paramedics.”

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