San Carlos — On Monday, May 21, some patients called the Moccasin with complaints of a doctor shortage at the San Carlos Hospital Emergency Room. A concerned patient told the Apache Moccasin that he had gone to the hospital that morning at around 8 a.m. and was told shortly thereafter that there was only one doctor in the ER and he would have to go the Cobre Valley Regional Medical Center if he wanted to be treated that same day.
The Moccasin called the hospital that same day and was told by administrators that they were not able to give out information without first getting authorization from the Indian Bureau of Health Service. The hospital put in the request to give out information that same Monday, and contacted the Moccasin on Thursday, May 24.
Acting Clinical Director, Dr. Sharon Wattley, told the Moccasin that after being contacted by the Moccasin regarding the alleged patient complaint, the hospital interviewed staff and investigated the matter. “We spoke with the staff and they confirmed that no one was turned away,” Wattley said.
She explained that all patients that enter the ER are served, something the hospital is bound to by federal law. It is also not uncommon, for any hospital, to have some long waits depending on the number of patients that are seeking service at a given time. Patients are also seen based on the severity of the patient’s condition. Acute conditions such as chest pain, child birth, and severe injuries will be treated first, while others may have to wait.
Dr. Wattley, however, emphasized that no patient is every turned away. “It’s not our policy!”
Wattley also said that if a patient ever has a complaint, the hospital has a process by which they can file their complaint, and the hospital will address the issue.
“No patient is ever turned away,” Wattley restated. “No patient.”