It’s become a troubling trend, more patients in Bismarck hospitals are coming in uninsured, traveling more miles for medical care. For many, their first stop is the emergency room.
(Craig Lambrecht, President and CEO of Medcenter One): "They don’t have a doctor. They haven’t been here before and the entry-point is a walk-in clinic or more often it’s the emergency departments.”
(Reporter): Visits to Medcenter One`s Emergency and Trauma Center have increased by almost 35 percent since 2006. St. Alexius is also seeing a big up-tick. It’s only projected to get busier into the summer months.
(Donna Gage, St. Alexius Nursing Director): "We see a lot of traumas with car accidents, recreational accidents with four wheelers, boating accidents and just overall recreational.
(Gordy Leingang, St. Alexius Emergency Room Physician ): "The emergency department is the one place where we pride ourselves. We see everybody, anything, any time. We can’t say no. So we see everybody.”
(Reporter): With more patients to see, doctors say expect the wait time to be longer.
(Leingang): "Not too many years ago we’d get people seen right away. And in that fashion, people in North Dakota, people in Bismarck, were really spoiled. We’re still pretty good about getting patients seen in under an hour, but it’s getting a lot harder to do that and you can sure feel it. You can sure feel the strain," Leingang said.
(Reporter): Those unpopular longer waits aren’t just to get into the emergency room. Medcenter One says patients visiting their clinics are waiting longer than before.
(Lambrecht): "It`s like standing in a long line at the store. I mean if it lasts forever, there’s only so long you’re going to stand and when it comes to when people want health care, they want it fairly soon.”
(Reporter): Lambrecht acknowledges having to wait for medical care can turn people away from the system. That’s why he says the hospital is looking to expand. Medcenter One has seen more than a 250 percent increase in drug tests since 2009. The hospital says that’s because more employers are requiring workers to get tested, including the construction and oil industries, as well as the medical field.
By: KFYR TV Michelle San Miguel