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ER Wait Times at Your Fingertips
Date:5/21/2009

Text 23000 to Receive Message Displaying Gulf Coast Medical Center's Average ER Wait Time

PANAMA CITY, Fla., May 21 /PRNewswire/ -- New technology is allowing patients in the Panama City, FL area to find out the average ER wait time at Gulf Coast Medical Center before they go to the hospital. The hospital is posting its average ER wait times on its website and 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 hospital President and CEO Brian Baumgardner. "Now, 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 in the Bay County, Florida area, 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. It's the patient with non-emergent conditions who is benefiting from being able to know our average ER wait time before they come to the hospital."

Baumgardner adds the technology is also a great benefit to the area's vacationers. "More than six million people visit Panama City Beach throughout the year. Our guests come here not expecting to need medical care, but many do. By being able to check our ER wait times online or via text messaging they have a free resource that's easy to access and helps them quickly determine what steps they should take for receiving care."

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."

Times posted via text messaging or on the hospital's website, www.gcmc-pc.com, 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.

Nearly 40,000 patients a year choose Gulf Coast Medical Center for their emergency care. The hospital 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.


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SOURCE Gulf Coast Medical Center
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