When a person needs urgent or emergency health care, a hospital emergency room is the place to go. But it's difficult to know what's really an emergency, and what can probably wait for a primary care doctor to evaluate.
An emergency is a medical problem that could cause death or permanent injury if not treated right away. For example:
- Chest pain that may be accompanied by sweating, shortness of breath, spreading pain, nausea, vomiting, dizziness or a fast or irregular heartbeat
- Stroke symptoms such as sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body, confusion, trouble speaking or understanding, trouble seeing in one or both eyes, trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden, severe headache with no known cause
- Bleeding that does not stop after 15 minutes of direct pressure
- Sudden severe pain and swelling in a joint
- Difficulty breathing
- Passing out (fainting)
- Swallowing poison
- Broken bones
- Bites, human or from some animals
- Gaping wounds (the edges don't come together)
These are "emergency" warning signs in children:
- Bleeding that does not stop after five minutes of direct pressure
- Severe or ongoing vomiting
- Bloody stools or diarrhea
- Extreme sleepiness or fussiness, dizziness, confusion or other changes
- Chest or abdominal (stomach) pain or pressure
- A stiff neck with a fever or headache
Virtua's emergency departments (EDs) in Berlin, Marlton, Mt. Holly and Voorhees are prepared to meet the needs of each patient 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Plus, the Emergency Center at Virtua Camden provides urgent medical care and stabilization of patients in critical condition, who require transfer and admission to an inpatient hospital. Specialty services are available in certain locations.
- All Virtua EDs provide pediatric emergency care and meet the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines for emergency services
- Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) employed physicians provide emergency pediatric care at Virtua Voorhees 24/7 and Virtua Memorial 7 days a week between 11 am and 11 pm
Minor emergency care
- Virtua Memorial and Virtua Voorhees provide designated areas for the prompt treatment of patients with minor illnesses such as ear infections or injuries such as cuts and sprains. This service is available between 9 am and 1 pm, 7 days a week at Virtua Memorial and between 11 am and 11 pm, 7 days a week at Virtua Voorhees.
- All Virtua hospitals are designated Primary Stroke Centers by the New Jersey Department of Health and follow strict protocols for treating patients with stroke symptoms
- All Virtua EDs provide teleneurology, which allows emergency room physicians to have round-the-clock access to neurologists via real-time, two-way audio and video communication for the rapid diagnosis of stroke symptoms
- Virtua has established Chest Pain Centers (CPC) within each hospital for the rapid and early diagnosis of heart attack. The emergency department staff follows protocols to make a timely diagnosis in the critical early stage when treatments are most effective.
Virtua Express Immediate Care Center in Washington Township treats patients with minor sicknesses or injuries that require immediate attention. No appointments necessary and all major insurances accepted.
- Mobile Intensive Care Unit (MICU): the largest in the state with 11 advanced life support units and 165 full- and part-time paramedics
- South Star: provides airborne emergency medical services 24/7 and is staffed by a Virtua flight nurse and a flight paramedic
- Electronic medical records with the ability to automatically fax ED reports to designated physicians
- Burlington County Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program, available at Virtua Memorial and Virtua Marlton