Article Series

Time to Plan for your Emergency Medical Needs

Article by Karin Hall, CEO - Senior Resource Guide

Denver, Colorado – Like many consumers in the greater Denver area, I noticed more and more emergency rooms being built over the past few years.

Then, last month I realized there were three emergency rooms all within one mile of where I live in south Jefferson County. Each of the three ER’s were from different hospital systems. Not only did this seem odd, it felt wrong.

Could a consumer who has a serious heart incident have additional complications because he/she went to the wrong ER? Who decides where to go? What if an ambulance delivers the consumer to a small satellite emergency room rather than one attached to a full-service hospital that specializes in heart incidents?

I called my local fire department on a non-emergency number. I asked about these smaller satellite emergency rooms; and, I was told that in a true 911 emergency (when paramedics are called,) they are trained to evaluate the emergency and take the patient to the nearest “full hospital with an emergency room” that offers the best services for that patient’s specific emergency.

If someone has serious burns they may go to one hospital, while someone else with a heart attack may go to another hospital. This is the protocol that paramedics are trained to follow.

I also learned during my phone call that in my part of town, representatives from some of the satellite emergency rooms have been “calling on” the local fire departments and suggesting that they should transport 911 patients to their satellite facilities. My source at the Fire Department said that this is not right for these satellite emergency rooms to be soliciting emergency room business from fire stations.

It is actually the decision of the paramedic on where to take the patient with preference given to the patients’ wishes. However if a patient with a certain emergency is asking to be transported to a hospital that is not appropriate for the emergency medical condition, then the paramedics can make the decision to transport to a more appropriate emergency room that is part of a major hospital.

So paramedics are trained to make the decision on where to transport a patient for a 911 emergency. As part of their training, they know to transport the patient to the closest hospital with an emergency room that specializes in treating that patient’s type of emergency.

But, how does a family living in Jefferson County know which emergency to go to when there are so many to choose from? Then, I decided to count the emergency rooms in the greater Denver area. There are 46!


It was not difficult for me to figure out that this proliferation of Emergency Rooms is about profits and not about my health. A word of caution: Please do your planning while you are healthy. If something happens to you, knowing where you want to go in advance is good for you.
“Time to Plan for your Emergency Medical Needs” is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

For permissions beyond the scope of this license contact

Posted April 2017 on