The emergency room (ER) at Powell Valley Healthcare (PVHC) is staffed 24 hours per day with 1 of 4 full-time emergency physicians. We have 6 full-time registered nurses (RNs) that staff the ER 24/7 and 1 emergency medical technician (EMT) at the desk to assist with triage of our patients when they arrive at the ER. All ER doctors and nurses are trained in advanced cardiac life support.
Our patients may expect prompt, courteous treatment for medical emergencies in our ER. Average wait time to be evaluated by a nurse is less than 15 minutes. All patients with chest pain or other life-threatening conditions are seen immediately.
PVHC employs a full complement of well-trained and highly motivated EMTs. They respond to emergency calls in clean, well-maintained and equipped ambulances. The average response time from the moment the call is received is less than 2 minutes. Our ambulances are also available for interfacility transfers in the event one of our patients should require a service not provided by our rural facility.
The ER maintains a good working relationship with St. Vincent's Help Flight and Billings Clinic Med Flight air ambulance services, as well as local services such as Classic Lifeguard and Eagle Med. A helipad is located on the north side of the hospital or, alternatively, patients may go by ground ambulance to the airport, where they are flown to other hospitals, most commonly for interventional cardiology, major trauma or burn care.
Powell Valley Healthcare has been designated by the state of Wyoming Trauma Program as a Community Trauma Hospital. All ER physicians and nurses have specialized trauma care training and education. In the event of an accident, our trauma team is activated. The trauma team promptly assembles—including the ER doctor and RN, a surgeon and surgical RNs, anesthetists, radiology technicians, laboratory personnel, cardiopulmonary staff, andl EMTs. Trauma victims are stabilized and treated here or may be transferred to Billings for specialized care.
Frequently asked questions about the ER:
Why are some people seen sooner than others?
We are committed to providing you with excellent patient care, no matter what your illness or injury. The triage tech will evaluate each patient and determine the severity of illness or injury. Because our first priority is to save lives, the most severely injured or ill patients will be seen first. Also, you may be waiting for a specific treatment room, diagnostic test, lab result or a return phone call from a physician. If you are asked to wait but begin to feel worse, please tell the nurse right away.
Is paperwork more important than my care?
We will never delay care to complete paperwork. The registration interview is very important to your visit. Our admission staff must create or identify your patient history file and will issue a medical record number and account number that is specific to you. These numbers are then available to all the departments that may care for you, including lab and radiology, and other physicians. It is important that these professionals take the time to enter the information accurately. Our health information management services (medical records) department will maintain all records related to this visit for many years. When you arrive, we will get only the information necessary to establish a personal medical record and identification armband.
Why can't I eat or drink while I am waiting?
You may be asked to refrain from eating or drinking until after the physician evaluates you for a possible need for lab testing or surgery. After the physician completes the evaluation, be sure to ask if you can eat or drink.
How long does treatment take?
If you have a complicated health problem, you may be in the ER for several hours. Your health problem may require many tests, or the physician may have to consult with other specialists.
If your illness or injury is life-threatening, it may take many hours to stabilize your condition. There may also be further delay if there are others in the department needing care as well. If you have an illness such as a heart attack or stroke you may have to be admitted or transferred to another facility. It will take additional time to arrange for admission or transport.
Lastly, there may be times when the physician determines that there is no life-threatening condition and may refer you to your family physician for continuing care.
Why did I have to wait when the staff did not look busy?
Staff and physicians are waiting for diagnostic test results and often can't proceed with other treatments or diagnosis until the test results are available.
How can I get my medical records when I need them?
You can pick up your medical records from the health information management office (medical records) at Powell Valley Healthcare during regular business hours. Please call in advance, and the staff will have them ready for you to pick up. You will need to sign a release of information form before receiving the records. If you want to take a copy of your labs or other documents with you from your ER visit, you will need to sign a release of information form before you can receive the records.
Why can't you tell me what this will cost?
After your evaluation in the ER is completed, the doctor will dictate a report regarding your condition and the care that was given. That report then goes to the coding department where the charges are done. They will be posted to your account. There will be additional charges added from the departments that provided diagnostic testing, the pharmacy (if medications were provided), and from physicians that assisted with your care.
Who can help me if I have a concern or would like to comment about my care in the ER?
We welcome your comments because they will help us improve our care. You can always talk with the staff that cared for you, but if you would like to talk to someone else, the quality assurance department would like to hear from you. You are also welcome to talk with an administrator on call or the director of the department.
Why can't I get any medical advice or information over the phone when I call?
In compliance with the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and in an effort to maintain the safety and confidentiality of patients who are being treated in the ER, we will not provide information regarding any patient in the ER. If you know of a specific patient or their family who are being treated in the ER, you may ask them for information and they may provide it.
Unlike your primary doctor, the ER staff is not familiar with your medical history, general health or other healthcare concerns; therefore, we cannot provide accurate information related to your care over the phone. We will always be happy to see you in person in the ER.