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What to Expect in the Emergency Room

When you arrive in the Emergency Department our reception staff will ask your name and begin a record of your visit. You may be directed to the waiting area before seeing a triage nurse. 


The triage nurse has special training to your condition. He or she will ask you questions about your illness or injury and take your blood pressure, pulse and temperature. Under physician guidance and using standard protocols, the triage nurse can begin your care immediately. Medicine for pain or fever may be given and X-rays ordered right away.

The triage process helps our Emergency Department staff decide which patients should be treated first. All our patients are evaluated in this manner. Patients with critical or life-threatening illnesses are given top priority.

Learn more about emergency heart attack and stroke care

Treatment Area

You will be asked questions about your medical history and then undergo a physical examination. Tests may be ordered, such as blood work, x-rays, or a CT scan. An electronic patient tracking system allows our staff to monitor the overall progress of your care.

Your Care Team

While you are in the Emergency Department you may be cared for by the following medical professionals:

  • A Physician who is board certified in emergency medicine will lead your care team.
  • A Physician Assistant (PA) who is licensed to practice under the supervision of a physician may care for you in our Fast Track area or main Emergency Department.
  • A Registered Nurse who is specially trained and certified in emergency care will monitor your condition, give medications if needed, and keep you and your family informed.
  • A Nursing Assistant may assist you and your family with personal needs. They are skilled at taking blood samples and performing tests such as EKGs.

Additional team members include consulting physicians, social workers, nurse case managers, volunteers, registrars, transport aides and environmental services staff. We all work together to provide you with the highest quality care.

Fast Track

Fast Track is an area within the Emergency Department that cares for patients with less complex conditions like cuts, fractures and sprains. Typically, patients can be examined, treated and discharged home within 90 minutes of arrival. Fast Track is available every day of the week from 10 a.m. - 10 p.m.

Fast Track and Children

Since most pediatric emergencies fall into the “minor” category, young patients often receive care in the ED’s Fast Track area

Wait Time

The Emergency Department staff works hard to provide prompt care, but you may still experience a wait. Your wait will depend on several factors:

  • The nature of your condition
  • How busy the department is when you arrive (Evenings, weekends and holidays are busiest for us.)
  • The number of persons requiring immediate treatment for serious conditions

After you have been seen by a physician you may need to wait for x-rays or laboratory results.

Pain Medicine

We will make every effort to control your pain. However, pain medicine can hide symptoms of certain illnesses. That means sometimes we have to wait to give you pain medication until after the physician or physician assistant (PA) examines you. Even so, please let us know if you are in pain because we may be able to offer something to make you more comfortable until medication can be given. As soon as it is safe for you to receive pain medicine, we will have it ready for you.

Families in the Emergency Department

Visitors are allowed in the Emergency Department and we encourage your family to be with you. If you need help to phone a family member, please ask our staff or a volunteer. Remember that the ED is a busy place, so the number of visitors may be limited. Visitors should remain at your bedside. For the comfort and privacy of our patients, visitors may be asked to leave during certain tests or procedures.

Food and Drink in the Emergency Department

Some medical tests have certain restrictions. Please check with your nurse before you eat or drink anything. If you are with us at mealtime and are hungry and allowed to eat, the staff will provide you with a meal. Your family may visit the Nutmeg Grill located on the ground floor of the hospital.

Personal Belongings

You are responsible for your belongings, including clothing, purse or wallet, dentures and glasses. You may want to give them to family or friends for safekeeping. A “belongings bag” is provided at the foot of your bed for your convenience. We encourage you to send all valuables home if you are being admitted to the hospital.

If You Need to be Admitted to the Hospital from the Emergency Department

If your primary care doctor is on Greenwich Hospital's medical staff, the emergency physician will contact your doctor to discuss your case and why you need to be admitted. Your physician or your physician's covering doctor may directly manage your care, or they may collaborate with a Hospitalist on the Greenwich Hospital staff.

Hospitalists are primary care physicians who specialize in the care of hospitalized patients. It is important to discuss with your primary care physician whether hospitalists will be part of your care team if you are admitted. If you do not have a primary care physician on our medical staff, a Hospitalist will oversee your medical treatment during your stay.

Greenwich Hospital is a teaching hospital. Residents, or physicians in training, may also be involved in your care.