ST. LOUIS, MO (KPLR)-- The number of people seeking treatment at the St. Louis University Hospital Emergency Room has skyrocketed. At times it`s so busy patients are treated in hallways.
Mary Waller was being treated in the E.R. Tuesday morning, she`s been here before. This time she`s lucky, she got a room. Waller said, "I`ve been in the emergency room before and had to sit and wait and wait for hours because there is no room."
Nearby her some patients were being treated in an E.R. hallway and that is not uncommon. Dr. Laurie Byrne is SLU`s Chief of Emergency Medicine, "Our volume continues to grow year after year and we`re just growing out of our small little space."
In the past decade the number of patients at SLU`s E.R. has jumped by 10,000 a year. And SLU is not alone. Helen Sandkuhl is Director of Nursing in the emergency department. She said, "E.D. overcrowding is not really a St. Louis problem but a nationwide problem so we have this issue in the E.R. for many, many years."
More people are showing up at SLU because other area hospitals have closed or shut down their emergency rooms. SLU is now in the process of knocking down walls in efforts to increase the size of the E.R. by more than 50 percent. It`s a $1.5. million project.
Dr. Byrne said, "It will help with some of the higher acuity patient that we have to sometimes treat in the hall to get back to a room quicker."
They also hope it will reduce waiting time for people who are sick. Patients like Mary Waller are pleased by the expansion.
Waller said, "I`m very excited about it.... I think it`s greatly needed, any expansion you know for medical care is greatly needed."
But even when the addition is complete in about 5 months, they will have already outgrown the new space. The E.R. is that busy.