Patients seeing longer wait times in local emergency rooms due to spike in COVID cases

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — For weeks, health leaders across the Mid-South have warned of long wait times in emergency rooms because of the spike in COVID-19 cases.

People in desperate need of care are now speaking out about how long they’ve had to wait.

FOX13 spoke with a woman who said she was in the ER waiting room for almost two days.

Trisha Mejia told FOX13 she sat in the emergency room at Methodist South in Whitehaven for 44 hours.

“I just don’t understand how it’s taking this long,” she said.

Mejia said she was rushed to the hospital Sunday evening. She thought she had COVID-19. Her test results came back negative. She has pneumonia.

“It feels like someone is sitting on my chest. I keep telling them. They have to wheel me to the bathroom. I can’t walk,” Mejia told FOX13.

Mejia was provided oxygen to help her breathe but said hospital staff refused to give her food, drink or pain medication until she was seen by a doctor.

In a statement, a Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare spokesperson said in part: “Wait times in the emergency departments have increased across the country and locally due to skyrocketing COVID-19 cases, increased volumes and staffing shortages.” The spokesperson went on to say, “Methodist has processes in place to ensure that patients requiring emergent care are prioritized. While patients with a less urgent need might have to wait longer. "

“I don’t understand why us urgent ones can’t get back there and get any help,” Mejia said.

The hospital spokesperson also said there are ways people can help alleviate the stress hospitals are facing.

  • Contact your primary doctor or visit an urgent care for non-emergencies.
  • Do not show up to the ER for a COVID test.
  • Get vaccinated.