Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Information for Patients and Visitors

What to expect

When you arrive at the CMMC Emergency Department, you will meet a registrar at the registration desk. The registrar will ask you a few questions and open a record for you in the hospital's computer system. The registrar will also inform the triage nurse about the reason for your visit.

Meeting the triage nurse

The next person you will meet will be the triage nurse. The triage process determines which patients need to be seen first. The triage nurse evaluates each patient's symptoms, records vital signs, medical history and current medications, and decides which patients must be seen first.

Why did someone else get seen before me, when I got here first?

The triage process identifies more seriously ill and injured patients who need higher priority care. This means that patients may not be seen by care providers in the same order in which they are registered and triaged. Those with less serious problems sometimes have to wait because people with possibly life threatening issues must be treated first. For example, someone having a heart attack demands immediate attention and will be seen before someone with a fever, cough or even broken bone.

What happens after triage?

After triage you may be escorted to a treatment room or asked to wait in the waiting area, depending upon the seriousness of your illness and available treatment space. Even if treatment space is not immediately available, a care provider may begin any necessary tests, such as blood work, or a urine sample. Food and drink can affect test results, so please check with the triage nurse before eating or drinking anything. If your condition changes while you are waiting, it is important that you tell the triage nurse or registrar.

What happens in the treatment area?

Once you are in a treatment room, you will be evaluated by a physician, a physician assistant (PA) or nurse practitioner (NP). An emergency nurse will also assist. All of these care providers have special training in emergency care.

All CMMC Emergency Department doctors are certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. Many also have other board certifications, including pediatrics and internal medicine.

Following your evaluation, your care provider may order additional testing and treatments. These tests and treatments may take a long time to complete, but they are important to give you the best care possible. The wait can be frustrating, so we thank you in advance for your patience.

While you are in the treatment area, an emergency nurse will monitor your condition. The nurse will also give you any medications prescribed by the emergency care provider and will try to keep you comfortable and informed about what is happening with your treatment. If you feel your condition is changing, do not hesitate to tell your nurse or other care provider.

How long will the wait be?

Although everyone's experience is different, the average visit to the CMMC Emergency Department is about two and a half hours. Many visits are shorter and some are longer than this. Depending on how busy the Emergency Department is, there may often be a long wait to get into a room to be seen. Please know that we try our best to be as efficient as possible, and we will try to get you face-to-face with a care provider as fast as we can. Your patience is appreciated while you are waiting.

If your wait is longer than you expected it to be, the reason is that while we are caring for you, we are serving other patients at the same time - often a lot of other patients. Some patients require a significant amount of time for proper care. Procedures such as repairing large cuts, setting broken bones, splinting, and so on, can take a lot of time.

Also, because CMMC is a designated trauma center, we employ the skilled specialists and maintain the technical environment necessary to care for the most severely ill or injured patients. They are brought to CMMC by Emergency Medical Service providers from the region and the LifeFlight of Maine medical helicopter service. Caring for these patients can sometimes require the assistance of resources from throughout the hospital.

Again, we thank you for your patience and understanding while you wait for us to serve you.

What happens after I am treated?

When all necessary treatments and procedures are complete and test results are reviewed, your care provider will decide if you will be discharged home, admitted to CMMC as an inpatient, or transferred to a different hospital.

Patients who are discharged home are provided with complete after-care instructions. If you are advised to contact your primary care provider, it is very important that you do so.

Please call the Emergency Department at 795-2200 if you have questions after discharge.