On July 1, 2021, Novant Health UVA Health System became part of UVA Health. Learn more »

Novant Health UVA Health System is responding to Coronavirus in our communities. Protect yourself and others. Learn more »

What to expect at the emergency room

Knowing what to expect can ease your mind

When it comes to an emergency hospital visit, there should be no surprises with your treatment. At Novant Health UVA Health System, we understand that an emergency situation is stressful and we want you to know what to expect when you visit our emergency room.

After you arrive and check in, a triage nurse will evaluate your situation to determine the urgency of your condition. At most of our locations, you’ll then be taken to a treatment room where an experienced provider will examine you and discuss your treatment options.

We see everyone as quickly as possible. However, we do treat the most critically-ill patients first. Our staff will do its best to speed the process and we’re always available to answer any questions you may have. See our ER wait times here. While it is our goal to keep you as comfortable as possible during your wait, we are unable to give pain medication to patients in the waiting area. If you need to use a bathroom, please check in with our staff members as a urine sample may be needed. Also, please ask before eating or drinking anything to be sure that this is safe for your medical condition.

View our ER wait times
Know before you go


Once you are called back to the treatment area, a team of professionals works together to assess your medical need. They may need to order or perform laboratory tests, X-rays or other tests to help diagnose and treat your condition. Note that these tests may take time to complete. If you want to speak to an interpreter, social worker or chaplain, please let us know. Should you need a higher level of care, you will be admitted to one of our hospitals for further treatment. In addition, we will work with your primary care physician to coordinate your care going forward.

Visitor guidelines

We know that any visit to the emergency room can create anxiety for you and your family and friends. We welcome visitors in the ER. However, we ask that no more than two individuals at a time visit with a patient. In end-of-life situations, we may allow more, so please check with our staff in those situations.

Suicide screening guidelines

As part of our care plan, we administer a suicide screening examination to all patients age 6 and older who are treated in our ERs. This short, three-question survey identifies patients who may have suicidal feelings and need further evaluation. It is important to know that your answers will not impact the quality of care you receive in any way.

Domestic violence guidelines

All patients age 14 and older (younger at some locations) that are treated in our emergency rooms are screened for warning signs of domestic violence. Because these questions must be asked in private, parents / guardians will be asked to leave the room during this brief conversation. While the vast majority of our patients have no indication of abuse or neglect, this screening is vital in helping us protect those few who may be victims of domestic violence. This screening does not impact the quality of care we provide in any way.

Mental behavioral health services

Before being seen by a provider, a triage nurse will evaluate any patient who comes to our ER with mental health issues. Our staff will do its best to speed the process and we are always available to answer any questions you may have.

Pediatric emergency medical services

All of our ERs offer care and treatment to newborns, toddlers, adolescents and teenagers. Our doctors and nurses help ensure a warm and caring environment while thoroughly communicating diagnosis and treatment options to parents and children.

If you have any questions that were not answered in this section on what to expect, contact the Novant Health UVA Health System emergency room near you.