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'Patients waiting in the double-digit hours to get back to a room' | ERs slammed as COVID-19 surge continues

The Novant Health emergency department is the busiest it's been in two years. They're urging people to get tested in the outpatient setting.
Credit: WCNC

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — As COVID-19 cases surge in the Carolinas and across the country, doctors and nurses in Charlotte-area hospitals have an urgent warning: Think twice about where you're going to get tested.

Courtney Cortes, the director of nursing for emergency services at Novant Health Presbyterian, said the emergency department is the busiest it’s been in the last two years.

“All of our units are really at critical capacity,” Cortes said. “Initially, it was thought omicron wouldn’t have as many admissions coming in, but we actually are seeing a huge uptick of COVID admissions in the last two weeks, which I think is more than we were anticipating.”

That means going to the ER will not be quick.

“Across our regions, really, you can anticipate patients waiting in the double-digit hours to get back to a room.”

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At any time, she said 12 to 15 people are waiting for a COVID-19 test. They’re urging people to go to an outpatient setting, Novant Health has several urgent care locations offering free COVID-19 tests.

“Truthfully, going to an outpatient setting, you’re going to have a much shorter wait time you can set an appointment,” she said.

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People looking for tests in the emergency department puts even more of a strain on resources, impacting the timeliness of care for those who need it most.

Healthcare workers are urging more people to get their COVID-19 vaccine or booster to help build immunity as they brace for another round of this pandemic.

“It just feels like truthfully like a 2-year sprint, and it’s just exhausting for, I think, all healthcare teams right now,” Cortes said.

There is COVID-19 testing at several Atrium Health, StarMed Healthcare, county health department locations and retail pharmacies as well.

RELATED: Where to get a COVID-19 test in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County

Contact Chloe Leshner at cleshner@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. 

WCNC Charlotte is part of seven major media companies and other local institutions reporting on and engaging the community around the problems and solutions as they relate to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a project of the Charlotte Journalism Collaborative, which is supported by the Local Media Project, an initiative launched by the Solutions Journalism Network with support from the Knight Foundation to strengthen and reinvigorate local media ecosystems. See all of our reporting at charlottejournalism.org.