Emergency Department staff working at a machine

The Emergency Department (ED) at Island Health understands that when it comes to saving lives, every minute matters. Our staff has the vital experience to meet any emergency-care challenge 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All ED professionals are educated and trained in the latest emergency-medicine procedures and operate with the expertise of Level III trauma care and Level II stroke care. Our commitment to excellence and patient care means that we’re here for you when you need us most!

The Island Health ED cares for approximately 19,000 patients a year or 50+ on any given day, and has the designation of being a Level III Trauma Center and a Level II Stroke Center. The different levels refer to the kinds of resources available to critically ill or injured patients and signifies a commitment to a higher standard of clinical service.

A Level III trauma center designation demonstrates a facility has the ability to provide prompt assessment, resuscitation, surgery, intensive care and stabilization of injured trauma patients and emergency operations.

A Level II stroke center designation indicates a facility offers a specialized stroke unit and that these centers are appropriate for patients when a Level I stroke center is more than two hours away from the patient’s location.

Designations of Local Emergency Departments

Hospital                                                                       Trauma                       Stroke
Island Hospital                                                               III                                 II
Skagit Valley Hospital                                                    III                                 II
Whidbey General Hospital                                           III                                 III
PeaceHealth United General Medical Center           IV                                 III
Peace Island Medical Center                                       IV                                 III

What to Expect When You Visit the ED

The number one priority of any ED is to see and stabilize critically ill or seriously injured patients; we are obligated to care for the sickest patients first. A triage nurse will assess your condition shortly after you arrive and you will be treated in the order of your severity. We see many different kinds of injuries and illnesses, and can’t predict how many patients will arrive at any given time. No matter how long you have to wait, we understand that you are not feeling well and make every effort to ensure wait times are as brief as possible. Your patience and understanding are always appreciated.

Island Health’s ED has 11 beds. At times when rooms are full in the ED, hallway beds may be utilized to ensure that you are evaluated by a doctor or nurse as soon as possible.

Every patient’s care plan will be different depending on the types of diagnostic tests and treatments that are ordered. Estimated wait times for certain tests and results are:

  • Lab work: 60 minutes
  • X-ray: 75 minutes
  • CT or ultrasound: 120 minutes
  • MRI: 135 minutes

Based on the results of your testing, additional testing may be ordered.

If the ED physician determines that you need to be admitted to the hospital, our staff will do their best to get you to an inpatient bed as soon as possible. When the hospital is at full capacity, we will care for you in the ED until a bed upstairs is available—this is called ‘boarding’.

If your symptoms or condition are such that you can be treated without being admitted to the hospital, you will be given a printed summary of your visit upon discharge. The visit summary will include all tests, procedures, medications administered and your plan of care. The summary will contain important instructions for you to schedule a follow-up visit with your own primary care provider or another physician or specialist. Patients are encouraged to schedule their follow-up appointment as soon as possible after their ED visit. In addition, your summary information will be available to view on the myIslandHealth patient portal.

While visiting the ED is never ideal, rest assured knowing our dedicated team is committed to caring for each individual with compassion and respect. We work quickly to expedite care while giving you the attention you need to help stabilize each patient. We’re here when you need us most; 24 hours a day; seven days a week.


Know Where to Go for Care: ED or Walk-In Clinic

The Emergency Department is the best place to go for treatment for serious illnesses or injuries. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, call 9-1-1 or visit your nearest Emergency Department immediately:

  • Stroke (facial ‘droop’, slurred speech or numbness in arm, leg or face)
  • Chest pain
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Coughing or vomiting blood
  • Severe burns
  • Severe bleeding
  • Severely broken bones
  • Sudden blurred vision
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Seizures
  • Head injury with loss of consciousness
  • Sudden dizziness or loss of balance
  • High fevers

For minor injuries or illnesses, you may consider visiting a walk-in clinic or urgent care where wait times may be shorter with lower costs. Common health concerns treated at Island Walk-In Clinic – M Avenue include:

  • COVID-19
  • Colds, flu or fever
  • Earaches
  • Sinus infections
  • Migraines
  • Sprains, strains or minor broken bones
  • Eye infections
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Rashes
  • Cuts or scrapes
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea

Island Walk-In Clinic – M Avenue is open every day. No appointment necessary.
Monday–Saturday, 7:00 a.m.–7:00 p.m.
Sunday, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

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Published on July 25, 2022