Frequently Asked Questions about Emergency Care

Emergency HelicopterEmergencies can be scary, and you might have a lot of questions about what’s happening, where to go or other concerns. Here are answers to our most frequently asked questions:

Should I go to the Skagit Regional Health Emergency Department with the highest level of care?

No, not necessarily. If you’re in the state of Washington, you should go to the nearest Emergency Department even if that means going outside of Skagit Regional Health. Why? Because Washington’s statewide emergency system will make sure you’re assessed and treated at the right facility for your condition, which might mean you’ll be transported to another hospital.

Should I go to the Emergency Department or Urgent Care?

Emergency Departments are intended for medical emergencies, including life-threatening illnesses or injuries. Urgent care is intended to treat non-life-threatening conditions. Learn more about where to go for the most appropriate care.

What are the common signs and symptoms of a stroke?

At Skagit Regional Health, we use B.E. F.A.S.T. as a reference for indications of stroke. This easy to remember tool helps anyone more easily identify common signs of a stroke, including:

  • B – Balance: Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • E – Eyes: Any sudden issues with vision or double vision
  • F – Face: Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, or facial droop
  • A – Arms: Issues with the ability to raise an arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • S – Speech: Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • T – Time: Call 911 immediately if you or a loved one experiences any of these symptoms of stroke.

Family history of stroke or genetic disorders can increase your risk of stroke. Learn more about signs of a stroke.

What are the common signs and symptoms of a heart attack?

Diagnostic EquipmentAs the number one cause of death in the United States, cardiovascular health should be a high priority for everyone. It is important to understand, too, that signs and symptoms can be different between men and women. Knowing what to expect and how to respond quickly, helps improve outcomes. Some of the differences with heart disease in women, including heart attacks, include:

  • The average age when women experience their first heart attack is 7 years later than men.
  • Women can experience the more traditional signs of a heart attack like chest pains, but can also have much more subtle symptoms such as pain in the stomach, jaw, neck, shoulders or back.
  • In addition to pain symptoms, women can also experience symptoms such as indigestion, nausea or heartburn.

Learn more about women and heart disease from the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women.

The most important information for any condition, is listen to your body. If you don’t feel right or have any symptoms that are alarming, go to the closest Emergency Department. For both men and women, some of the more common signs and symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Pressure or fullness, squeezing or pain in the center of the chest
  • Pain spreading to shoulders, neck and arms
  • Severe pain and/or crushing chest pain
  • Sudden weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Sweating
  • Nausea, vomiting or shortness of breath
  • Overall feeling of “not feeling right”

Learn more about signs of a heart attack. While it is important to understand the signs and symptoms of a heart attack, it is also critical to know your specific risks, including family history of heart disease or heart attacks. Our board-certified team cardiovascular experts at Skagit Regional Health can help you manage heart disease, but more importantly how to prevent heart and vascular issues by understanding your numbers and focusing on heart-healthy living.

How long will I have to wait to be seen?

Wait times are affected by a number of factors, including the severity of your condition, the overall number of patients in the Emergency Department and the number of patients arriving by ambulance. Please understand there may be patients experiencing medical conditions more urgent than yours.

Although these patients might not look as ill as you feel, be assured that our triage process assesses patients for their condition’s severity, and we treat patients as quickly and safely as possible. After you’ve been seen, your time in the Emergency Department might be extended due to pending test and lab results. If you ever have questions, please talk with the staff and your clinical team so they can keep you updated on your status.

Will I have to pay for my Emergency Department services at the time of care?

Although we will check to make sure we have your current insurance information on file upon registration, you will not be expected to pay for your emergency care at the time of services.

Financial assistance for patients with undue hardship in paying for healthcare services is available through Skagit Regional Health’s Financial Assistance Program. Ask one of our registration staff if you’d like more information on this program.

For More Information

If you have a question that wasn’t answered here or you’d like more information, please call Skagit Valley Hospital at 360-424-4111 or Cascade Valley Hospital at 360-435-2133.