Hospital billboard tells patients how long to be patient

By: John Treanor Email
By: John Treanor Email

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Six minutes, from door to doctor or nurse. When it comes to living or dying, every minute counts.

One billboard, off interstate 40 shows how long you can expect to wait when you walk through the Emergency Room door of Mercy West.

Dee Jay Smith, a patient at Mercy West says it's important to him. He said, "Especially if you have health problems, and its an emergency."

The sign updates as the wait time changes, but does it work?
Dee Jay Smith let Volunteer TV wait with him and watch the time tick by. Smith was in for kidney stones, the billboard told him to plan on just three minutes in this room. He hoped it was right, so he sat and waited, and waited, and waited, for a total of two minutes and seven seconds. That's one for the billboard.

Mercy Health partners spokesperson Craig Griffith said, "It's demanding on us as well, this is a commitment to the community and we want to make sure we live up to that community."

The sign is a promise, but one that won't be easy to keep because more and more people are using the emergency room like they would a doctor's office. People like Dee Jay.

Dee Jay said, "The insurance I have, it's hard to find a PCP right now, most people aren't taking patients and the ones that do won't accept the insurance I have. I have no choice but to come to the emergency room."

Signs like this one could become common sights in Knoxville. The people at Mercy tell us its just the pilot. They plan on putting signs up at all their local hospitals.

The Mercy West billboard was put up Tuesday, no time table for the other ones yet.

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