RI hospitals experiencing influx of patients, abnormally long wait times


WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — If you’ve recently spent several hours in a hospital waiting room, you’re not alone.

The R.I. Department of Health tells 12 News hospitals across the state are experiencing overcrowding and significantly longer waiting times.

Dr. Laura Forman, chief of emergency medicine at Kent Hospital, said she’s seen it firsthand.

“I’ve been in medicine for over 20 years and I have never seen a time like this,” she said.

Forman said there are several contributing factors to the backlog, including nationwide staffing shortages, a lack of beds and an influx of patients.

“I heard from a colleague that works in the south right now, and they had wait times in their emergency room at 48 hours,” she said. “Thankfully, we have got nowhere near that at Kent, but we definitely have patients waiting hours to be seen.”

At Kent, she said they’ve even build extra waiting room space to accommodate the increase in patients.

When asked why she believes there’s currently an influx of patients, Forman said there are several factors contributing to it.

“We are seeing a lot of unvaccinated people with COVID,” she said. “We are also seeing the results, we believe, of people who delayed care at the start of the pandemic.”

Forman did acknowledge that the wait time does depend on the condition of the patient, meaning those with mild symptoms would likely wait longer than those with moderate to severe symptoms.

Despite the long wait times, Forman said not to let it deter you from receiving emergency care when you need it.

“If you need emergency medical care, you need to come to the hospital,” she said. “If you think you have an emergency, we want you here.”

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