Dartmouth Health addresses emergency department capacity concerns at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center

Image of Joanne Conroy, MD, with text reading "Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center Emergency Department Update"

Please know that we’re working hard to address these capacity issues. Providing you and your family the high-quality care you need, when you need it most, is our highest priority.

Joanne M. Conroy, MD

As respiratory virus season rages, simultaneously with a nationwide shortage of healthcare workers, tertiary hospitals, which care for the sickest patients, across the region and country are reaching patient capacity in their emergency departments (ED). Similar to other Level 1 trauma centers in New England, Dartmouth Health’s Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) is no exception, seeing ED overcrowding for the last several weeks.

Dartmouth Health CEO and president Joanne M. Conroy, MD, recently recorded a video message addressing DHMC’s capacity concerns. While ED staff will continue to prioritize patients who are most urgently in need of care—such as people experiencing a heart attack or stroke, or who are critically injured—Conroy said that patients with less pressing healthcare concerns coming to the DHMC ED should expect extended wait times.

“If you must be admitted to the hospital, there are waits, sometimes for up to 24 hours, for inpatient beds,” Conroy said. “I understand—and everyone who is working hard to care for you understands—that these wait times are very frustrating. Please know that we’re working hard to address these capacity issues. Providing you and your family the high-quality care you need, when you need it most, is our highest priority.”

If you are experiencing a medical emergency, do not hesitate to call 911 or go to your nearest ED. If you are uncertain whether you are experiencing a medical emergency, the DHMC ED is open 24/7 and medical screening exams are available for anyone who arrives at our ED.

Assignment Editor’s Note: The video linked in this news release is cleared for use on all digital and broadcast media platforms, with credit to Dartmouth Health. A downloadable version is available via Dropbox upon request.

About Dartmouth Health

Dartmouth Health, New Hampshire's only academic health system and the state's largest private employer, serves patients across northern New England. Dartmouth Health provides access to more than 2,000 providers in almost every area of medicine, delivering care at its flagship hospital, Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) in Lebanon, NH, as well as across its wide network of hospitals, clinics and care facilities. DHMC is consistently named the #1 hospital in New Hampshire by U.S. News & World Report, and recognized for high performance in numerous clinical specialties and procedures. Dartmouth Health includes Dartmouth Cancer Center, one of only 56 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the nation, and the only such center in northern New England; Dartmouth Health Children’s, which includes Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, the state’s only children’s hospital, and multiple clinic locations around the region; member hospitals in Lebanon, Keene and New London, NH, and Bennington and Windsor, VT; Visiting Nurse and Hospice for Vermont and New Hampshire; and more than 24 clinics that provide ambulatory services across New Hampshire and Vermont. Through its historical partnership with Dartmouth and the Geisel School of Medicine, Dartmouth Health trains nearly 400 medical residents and fellows annually, and performs cutting-edge research and clinical trials recognized across the globe with Geisel and the White River Junction VA Medical Center in White River Junction, VT. Dartmouth Health and its more than 13,000 employees are deeply committed to serving the healthcare needs of everyone in our communities, and to providing each of our patients with exceptional, personal care.