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Fayetteville Hospital on the Fast Track to Shorter ER Waits

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FAYETTEVILLE — You are sick really sick and need to see a doctor. The emergency room seems like the fastest way to get treatment, but once you get there, you can wait for hours. One hospital is trying to change that.

The emergency room atCape Fear Valley Medical Centeris one of the busiest in the state. This year alone, about 88,000 people will come through the doors of its ER for treatment.

Brian Faircloth is one of them. He waited three and a half hours for treatment of strep throat.

"Sometimes its aggravating, but I can understand how someone sicker than you gets put ahead of you first," he says.

When it comes to emergency care, Cape Fear Valley meets the industry average for wait times.

In cases like Faircloth's -- which are considered non-emergency -- the average time is over two hours. That is about 30 minutes more than most hospitals.

"About 40 percent of our patients have non-emergent, non-urgent complaints. They need to be seen timely also, but seen in an area that's separate or they'll wait for a long time," says Carolyn Register, assistant director of the hospital's emergency department.

Cape Fear Valley Medical Center is trying to do more to lessen waiting times. The ER has added rooms in an area called Fast Track, and the hospital is also relying on technology.

Bedside registration and computers that allow doctors to read x-rays and lab results online helps get patients in and out faster.

Most importantly, doctors say, is education -- making sure people know when they should come to the ER.

"Somebody who has cold symptoms with no difficulty breathing, chest pains, no significant fever or vomiting, that can be handled by a regular doctor or urgent care," says emergency room physician Dr. Guy Glantz.

You should absolutely come to the emergency room for trauma, chest pains, and signs of a stroke. These cases will always take priority over someone with the common cold or a broken finger.