Emergency Room (ER) FAQs

What happens when I go to the ER?
After you arrive and check in at the admitting desk, a registered nurse will visit with you about your medical care needs by:

  • Observing
  • Asking questions about:
    ·    Allergies
    ·    Medications
  • Checking:
    ·    Blood pressure
    ·    Temperature / pulse

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Why the delay to be seen?

We know it is hard to wait when you are ill or injured. The emergency services staff makes every attempt to treat patients in a timely manner. A triage nurse determines which patients are seen according to severity of illness. Less severe injuries and illnesses may need to wait to be seen. Delays may occur for the following reasons:

  • Immediate needs of more serious patients
  • High number of patients to be seen
  • Time needed for laboratory, x-rays, and  other tests which could be a minimum of two hours
  • Waiting for the arrival of specialists to arrange for further care
  • Waiting for an appropriate exam room to become available
  • Patients arriving by ambulance cannot be seen from the waiting room

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What should I bring with me?

  • Photo identification
  • Insurance or Medicare card(s) 
  •  A list of all prescriptions, over the counter medicines, vitamins or supplements you take (My Medicine List)
  • A complete medical history 
  •  Insurance copayment fee
  • Key phone numbers - doctors, pharmacies, relatives to contact

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What if I have heart attack symptoms?
If you think you're having a heart attack, call 9-1-1 or your emergency medical system immediately; it is almost always the fastest way to get lifesaving treatment. Emergency medical services (EMS) staff can begin treatment when they arrive — up to an hour sooner than if someone gets to the hospital by car. EMS staff is also trained to revive someone whose heart has stopped. You'll also get treated faster in the hospital if you come by ambulance.

Don't wait longer than a few minutes (no more than 5) before calling for help. Get to a hospital right away.

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What are the symptoms of a heart attack?
Some heart attacks are sudden and intense, but most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often people affected aren't sure what's wrong and wait too long before getting help.

Here are signs that can mean a heart attack is happening:

  • Chest discomfort that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back (it can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain)
  • Pain or discomfort in other areas of the upper body (one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach)   
  • Shortness of breath     
  •  Breaking out in a cold sweat
  • Nausea
  •  Lightheadedness  

As with men, women's most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.

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What if I have stroke symptoms?
Timing is very important when symptoms of a stroke are apparent. You should immediately call 9-1-1 or emergency medical services in order to get an ambulance to the victim as quickly as possible and note the time. If you have someone bring you to the hospital, tell us immediately when you arrive that you are experiencing stroke symptoms. Sanford Bemidji Medical Center also has in-hospital rehab available to return patients to their homes ASAP.

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What do stroke symptoms feel like?
A stroke caused by a blood clot or bleeding will produce symptoms within seconds. Below are common symptoms associated with the onset of a stroke:

  • One side of the face droops or sags
  • Weakness, numbness, and or sudden paralysis particularly on one side of the body or in one part of the body, such as an arm, leg, or face 
  • Difficulty seeing in one or both eyes to include double vision, blurring, and dimness
  • Slurred speech or sudden difficulty getting words out
  • Confusion or difficulty understanding others
  • Sudden and severe headache
  • Difficulty or inability to swallow 
  • Sudden disorientation
  • Difficulty walking, loss of balance, and dizziness

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What if I have a broken bone?
An initial evaluation by our emergency doctor determines your treatment plan. If needed, you will then be evaluated by a board-certified orthopedic doctor while in our Emergency Department. You may also be referred to one of our outstanding orthopedic doctors for care once your injury's swelling goes down. If surgery to repair the break is necessary, we have an orthopaedic surgeon on call 24-hours a day.

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If I need X-rays, MRI, or CT scans, can Sanford Bemidji Medical Center's Emergency Department do these?
Yes. We have all this test equipment and skilled technicians available near our Emergency Department.

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What if we need to be admitted to the hospital for further care?
If you need to be admitted to Sanford Bemidji Medical Center, a member of the Cogent team or a hospitalist, a physician who specializes in the practice of hospital medicine, will arrange your admission and coordinate your care while you are here.

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What is a hospitalist?
A hospitalist is a physician who specializes in the practice of hospital medicine. Sanford Bemidji Medical Center works with Cogent Healthcare to provide this service.

Following medical school, hospitalists typically undergo residency training in general internal medicine, general pediatrics, or family practice, but may also receive training in other medical disciplines. There are currently more than 30,000 hospitalists practicing in more than 3,300 hospitals, and 80% of hospitals with over 200 beds.

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What is hospital medicine?
Hospital medicine is a medical specialty dedicated to the delivery of medical care to hospitalized patients. Practitioners of hospital medicine include physicians (“hospitalists”) and non-physician providers. In addition, hospital medicine practitioners work to enhance the performance of hospitals and healthcare systems.

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How will my doctor know what has happened to me?
Our Emergency Department is completely computerized and your doctor, if affiliated with Sanford Bemidji Medical Center, can access patient records, X-rays, and lab results from their office. If your doctor cannot access your records, we will fax your emergency record to him or her upon request. This keeps your doctor up-to-date.

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Is the Emergency Department a frightening place?
What can truly be frightening is having a medical emergency. By placing your trust in our knowledgeable and caring doctors, nurses, and technicians, you can rest assured that we'll give you great care.

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Are family and friends allowed in the room with me?
Family and loved ones are important to the treatment and recovery of our patients. To protect patient privacy and help promote staff efficiency, we ask that visitors please observe the following guidelines.

  • We will make every attempt to keep you informed about the progress of your loved one’s care. If you have questions, please ask a staff member.
  • Please check in at the triage station.
  • If it becomes disruptive for the patient or others in the ER, the number of visitors may be restricted.
  • Once in the treatment area, please remain at your family member’s / friend’s bedside or return to the visitor waiting area.
  • Do not move around the treatment area(s).
  • Children must be supervised by an adult.
  • No food or drink is allowed in the treatment area unless approved by the nursing staff.

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What happens when I leave the ER?
Before you leave the emergency department, a nurse or physician will spend a few minutes with you to make sure you understand how to care for yourself at home.

You will also receive a recommendation for follow-up medical care, if needed. At discharge, you may receive a prescription to help you care for your condition. You can receive further information about filling this prescription from an emergency services staff member.

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What if they need to transfer me to another facility for care?
If a transfer of your care is needed, your physician will discuss the most appropriate transport method based upon your medical condition. Transfers can be made by:

  • Ambulance
  • Helicopter
  • Personal car

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What about my bill?
When you are admitted to the Emergency Department at Sanford Bemidji Medical Center we will collect your insurance information and any copayment fee required by your insurance plan. The Business Office will submit your claim to your insurance company and send you a statement. For more information on this process visit the Business Office section of our Web site.

Please direct your other billing questions to our billing department.
Call (218) 333-5827 or 1 (800) 833-8979 (for area codes 218 and 701 only)
during the following hours:
Monday through Thursday, 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Friday, 9:00 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
 

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Are there any other important reminders?

  • Dentures or other prosthetics (if any) may need to be removed
  • Please limit cell phone use
  • Leave jewelry and other valuables at home, including laptops, iPods or handheld games
  • There is no smoking at Sanford Bemidji Medical Center or any of its grounds

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