LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - With a growing number of Americans turning to emergency rooms for care, Lufkin's Memorial Hospital built a new facility to help combat the problem. KTRE went there Wednesday morning as the first patient was treated in the new building.
It wasn't a long wait for five-year-old Amy Smith. "You're the first patient ever here!" said a Dr. to Amy.
As Amy fights back coughs, mom Maria Smith said Amy has been sick for weeks. "Feels like baby ants are biting and stinging my throat," said Amy.
This isn't her first trip to an emergency room, and her mom usually dreads the visits. "Long waiting," said Smith. "You have to wait for hours you never know what to expect, you're going to be there for a while. A lot of the times you'll come in at 10 o'clock and be there til 2 o'clock in the morning."
But today, there was something different about this trip. "I was surprised," said Smith. "I was actually expecting to be here all day."
Jerry Fears, E.R. director, said long waits aren't uncommon in America's emergency rooms. "Nationwide there's more people going to the E.R. every year," said Fears.
Fears said more than one hundred patients will sit in their rooms each day. With more rooms in the new facility, the flow of patients will hopefully run smoother. "We almost doubled our size to handle more volume," said Fears. "And in ten years we'll probably have to add to this E.R."
For now patients like Amy will just enjoy the shorter wait time and the gifts that come along with it.