South County Hospital

What to expect when you come to the Emergency Department

401 782-8000, Main Number


We know a visit to the Emergency Department can be stressful. Knowing what to expect can help to make your visit as smooth—and stress-free—as possible.

When you arrive

When you arrive, you will be greeted by an experienced Emergency Department nurse. The nurse will immediately assess your condition—a process called “triage.” During triage, the nurse will take your vital signs (blood pressure, heart rate, etc.), so tests and medications can be given immediately if necessary. Triage helps the staff identify those with the most serious conditions because it is important that the sickest patients get treated first.

How long is the wait?

All of the ED staff and physicians want to treat your illness or injury as fast as possible. If you need immediate attention, you will be taken directly into a private treatment room.  Those with less serious conditions are sometimes asked to wait in the waiting area, and then following triage, are brought into a treatment room. In all cases, however, you will be seen either by a board certified Emergency Medicine physician or a highly trained nurse, nurse practitioner or physician assistant.

What happens once I’m in the treatment room?

Once you are in a private treatment room, you’ll be visited by a trained staff member—either a physician or nurse—who will continue to assess your condition. You might be given medication for your injury or illness at this point and have X-rays or other diagnostic tests ordered and conducted.  You also may have an IV inserted at this time. A registration technician will take your name, health insurance information, address, etc.

Can my family be with me?

We encourage family members to be with you in most cases. We understand it is comforting for patients to have family members present during what can sometimes be a frightening experience. There are times, however, when our medical staff will ask family members to stay in the waiting area or we may limit the number of people allowed in the treatment room.

When do I leave?

If you require admission or overnight observation, we’ll discuss this recommendation with you and inform your primary care physician. After treatment in the Emergency Department, you will be brought into one of our private rooms.
If you are discharged, you will be given thorough instructions by a physician, nurse practitioner, or physician’s assistant. You will be given a packet to take home detailing any medications prescribed, as well as at-home care.  You may be asked to make an appointment with your primary care physician or referred to a specialist for follow-up care.

Personal Belongings

Please safeguard your personal belongings. While we do our best to provide privacy and a safe environment for you during your difficult time, we cannot be responsible for your property. Please send valuables home with a friend or family member. If you are admitted or transferred, we will ask to inventory what we send with your when you leave the Emergency Department.


If you have a list of your current medications and allergies, please bring it to our attention so that we can provide the highest quality care and make the best medical decisions for you. If you have any medications with you, please alert our staff so that we may send these to our pharmacy for safe keeing or send them home with a friend or family member.

Ask questions!

We encourage you to take your time looking over the discharge materials and to ask questions. We want you to fully understand your medication, diagnosis, and follow-up instructions. We know a visit to the Emergency Department can be stressful, and we want you to take the time to understand your treatment and care.