Long ER wait times are the worst.

Plus: Why are these things legal in the U.S., but banned everywhere else.

Wednesday. We have reached an entirely new level of convenience and instant gratification. Amazon recently reported that about 60% of Prime orders placed in Q1 in the top U.S. metro areas arrived the same or the next day, up from 50% in Q2 of 2023 (READ MORE HERE). That is scary fast. Now, just wait once we have drones doing all these deliveries. You’ll realize you ran out of toilet paper and still get your delivery before you even flush. 

Is that a good thing? I don’t know. 

Do you know what we really should speed up? Wait times for emergency room visits, especially for the elderly. Let’s dive in.

Today’s Menu 🌿

  • 🏥 ER wait times are getting out of control.

  • Why are these things only legal in the U.S.🇺🇸?

  • Deep dive: 🦴 bone broth. 

  • The Daily Recipe is a protein-packed 🍗 go-to you’ll love!

  • 🥤 Can soda and pizza 🍕 be healthy?

Read Time: 4 minutes

Chicago Fire Waiting GIF by One Chicago

Long Waits In The ER

Every day, a concerning scene unfolds in hospitals across America as older men and women endure long waits in emergency room (ER) corridors. Lying on gurneys, they usually suffer in silence while the medical staff around them rush to attend to more immediate crises. 

Even after doctors decide these patients should be admitted, they might spend hours or more than a day waiting in the ER. MORE THAN A DAY! You could order something on Amazon and get it delivered faster than that. 

And the worst part? During this time, they often do not receive the necessary care, such as adequate food, water, or assistance going to the bathroom.

This issue, known as ER boarding, affects many, but older adults are particularly vulnerable. Adults over 65 make up nearly 20% of ER visits and often experience longer wait times (READ MORE ABOUT IT HERE). These long waits can have severe consequences. Older patients may lose strength, miss important medications, and are at higher risk for complications like delirium, falls, or infections. 

The longer they stay in the ER, the higher the risk of serious health events such as heart attacks or strokes. This is serious stuff. 

Some emergency medicine physicians at UCLA Health paint a grim picture of ER corridors crowded with patients calling out for help. The situation is as bad as it has ever been, worse even than during the early years of the Covid-19 pandemic. Other physicians from George Washington University call it a public health crisis, stressing the urgent need for solutions (READ THOSE FIRST PERSON ACCOUNTS HERE).

So how did we get here? It’s a little complicated, but there have been several factors. Staff shortages limit the number of available hospital beds. Hospitals may also prioritize beds for profitable surgeries, leaving fewer available for ER patients. Then you have the growing demand for hospital services, partly driven by an aging population, exacerbating the situation. 

Furthermore, difficulties in arranging follow-up care, such as home health services or nursing home placements, mean patients stay in the ER longer than necessary.

The impact on seniors can be profound. Confined to stretchers or chairs, often without sufficient nursing care, they face increasing health risks. For instance, a senior might arrive at the ER for a broken hip or respiratory infection and end up staying longer in the hospital because of complications arising from the wait. The ER literally makes them worse than when they came in. 

Solutions to this problem are complex but necessary. More beds and better hospital staffing are part of the answer, but public awareness and policy changes are also critical.

In the meantime, what can older adults do? Being prepared can help. Bringing essential items like medications, hearing aids, glasses, and mobility aids can make a world of difference. Experts also advise patients to keep moving if possible and engage in activities like reading or listening to music to stay oriented. 

The key takeaway? Long ER wait times are just one of the many broken pieces that make up our broken healthcare system. While individual preparations can help, the broader issue of ER boarding requires attention at the health system level. Changes in hospital management, staffing, and policy are needed to ensure that all patients, especially vulnerable older adults, receive the care they need promptly. 

Until these systemic issues are addressed, the scenes of distress in ER corridors are likely to continue. As our population ages, things will only get worse unless we make the necessary changes to make them better. 

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The Daily Recipe

Try to guess… It doesn’t get much easier than this. Prep this protein-forward snack for the perfect go-to lunch or dinner when you are short on time. It is tangy and oh-so-good!

Curious? Click below to discover the recipe and see if you guessed right.

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Tonic Shots

🥤 Can Soda Be Healthy?
If it is a prebiotic-packed Olipop, then yes. Yes, it can. TRY Olipop.

🍕 Pizza? For Real?
These pizza bites are made with all clean ingredients. Enjoy! SHOP SNOW BITES.  

🏥 Uh Oh Walmart
Walmart health centers closing nationwide. READ MORE.

"Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud."

Maya Angelou