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Emergency Care

Where do you want to be when you need emergency care? For everything from a very serious traumatic injury to just a bad cough, you should expect the same level of excellent care. At the four emergency rooms offered by Lehigh Valley Health Network, our goal is to take care of whatever your medical issue might be and get you back home healthy again as quickly as possible.

Lehigh Valley Health Network has two emergency rooms in the Allentown area, one in Bethlehem and one in Hazleton. We also have the region's only emergency room specifically for children. Whether you come to us by ambulance or MedEvac helicopter, or walk in on your own, our specially educated caregivers will be there to help you.

Learn more about our emergency room locations:

Our emergency room care includes:

  • An expanded emergency room (ER) at Lehigh Valley Hospital–Cedar Crest that includes more parking, beds and trauma bays
  • An express care area in our ER at Lehigh Valley Hospital–Cedar Crest and a rapid assessment unit at Lehigh Valley Hospital–Muhlenberg to ensure patients with less severe injuries, like fractures or cuts, receive the care they need quickly
  • MI Alert for Heart Attacks and Stroke Alert programs designed to deliver fast, gold-standard care for the best outcomes possible at Lehigh Valley Hospital–Cedar Crest and Lehigh Valley Hospital–Muhlenberg

If you or a loved one is tramatically injured, Lehigh Valley Health Network MedEvac air amubulance will bring you to care quickly. Our network has the region's largest Level I Trauma Center for adults, provides the region's highest level of trauma care for children, and is the area’s only health care provider that specializes in trauma care for older adults.

This means we care for all kinds of traumas – from small to the most serious – for all ages. We do it more times every day than any other trauma center in the region. And we do it with experience and compassion using the latest medicine.

If you need to be admitted for intensive care, doctors called intensivists and nurses with advanced critical care and trauma training will care for you. We also have an intensive care unit just for children as well as an advanced critical care unit equipped with video, voice and diagnostic monitoring as an added level of care.

If you are injured with a burn, we have the largest and most experienced burn center in Pennsylvania, and one of the most advanced burn centers in the nation.   

Express Care at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest

The ER at Lehigh Valley Hospital–Cedar Crest has an Express Care area to treat minor injuries like fractures, cuts, toothaches and colds. One-third of our ER patients use this service, which ensures faster care, and frees up space in other areas of the ER for patients with more severe injuries and illnesses.

Rapid Assessment Unit at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Muhlenberg

If the need ever arises, we want you to be prepared for your visit to the ER at Lehigh Valley Hospital–Muhlenberg. Patients experiencing medical emergencies such as a heart attack or stroke receive the same high-quality care as before. But if you have a less severe medical emergency, such as a cough or a broken bone, you may be seen in the emergency room's new rapid assessment unit (RAU). Patients spend less time waiting, receive care faster and return home sooner. View the virtual tour of the RAU so you may become familiar with what you'll see when you arrive.

Emergency care for heart attack

If you’re having a heart attack (myocardial infarction), U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services "Hospital Compare" data shows that Lehigh Valley Hospital consistently ranks in the top 1 percent in the nation for heart attack survival. Our heart attack survival rate is high because you receive care fast. The faster you get care, the less damage is done to your heart. That’s why it’s so important to know the symptoms of a heart attack and call 9-1-1 if someone is experiencing them. The symptoms include:

  • Chest discomfort or pain that lasts more than a few minutes
  • Discomfort or pain in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort
  • Cold sweats
  • Nausea
  • Lightheadedness

Our fast heart attack care program (MI Alert for Heart Attacks) saves lives and limits the amount of damage done to your heart. We educated area paramedics and EMTs to diagnose heart attacks in the field. If you’re having a heart attack, they will start treatment immediately and call ahead to our ER to ensure we’re ready when you arrive. When you arrive, a procedure performed in our cardiac catheterization lab (angioplasty) can open your blocked arteries within 90 minutes, the "gold standard" for heart attack care.

If our heart team determines you need bypass surgery, you’ll be in the right place. We are the fifth-largest heart program in Pennsylvania. Lehigh Valley Hospital also is cited as a "high performer" in cardiology and heart surgery by U.S. News & World Report.

Even if you live outside the Lehigh Valley, we still can help. We’ve partnered with Pennsylvania hospitals in Hazleton, Lehighton, Palmerton, Pottsville, Sellersville and Ashland. Our experienced MedEvac helicopter flight crew, along with local ambulance crews, ensure people experiencing heart attack symptoms in these communities get to our hospital as soon as possible.

When you call 9-1-1, be clear and direct. Say, “I think I’m having a heart attack.” Then, chew and swallow an aspirin. Remember, if you’re experiencing symptoms, don’t wait. Call 9-1-1 to get to Lehigh Valley Health Network’s ER for fast heart attack care.

If a serious heart attack stops the heart from sending oxygen to the brain, we can provide lifesaving care. We are one of six major U.S. heart centers collaborating to produce data about the use of therapeutic hypothermia. This leading-edge technology lowers the body’s core temperature to 91 degrees, slowing metabolism and preventing dangerous swelling, giving you a better chance to heal.

Emergency care for stroke

Stroke is a medical emergency. Symptoms include weakness or numbness on one side of your body; confusion or difficulty speaking or understanding; blurry vision; severe headaches and dizziness. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately.

Every second counts when someone is having a stroke. The longer blood flow to the brain is cut off, the greater the damage. Immediate treatment can save your life and improve your chances for recovery.

Lehigh Valley Health Network’s Primary Stroke Centers ensure quick and thorough treatment.

Children’s ER

We created the first Children's ER in the region to provide the specialized emergency care they need. The 12-bed facility is at Lehigh Valley Hospital–Cedar Crest in Allentown, Pa. The Children's ER is staffed by specialists who are passionate about caring for your children and have the skills to address their needs. It also was specially designed to help ease children’s anxiety.

MedEvac crewLehigh Valley Health Network's MedEvac crew is ready to respond to an emergency 24/7 with its helicopter or ground fleet.

MedEvac

When a patient needs critical care transportation, Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN)-MedEvac provides it by air or by ground. LVHN-MedEvac provides 24/7 operation of four critical care helicopters and two critical care ambulances. Staffed by LVHN clinicians, LVHN-MedEvac brings high-quality care to seriously ill or injured patients throughout the region.  

Helicopters and ambulances are staffed by a paramedic with education in critical care, a registered nurse (RN) with experience in critical care and an emergency medical technician (EMT) pilot or driver.

Under a physician’s medical direction, members of the MedEvac team can administer medication and are qualified to perform procedures beyond what typical emergency medical service (EMS) crews can provide. LVHN-MedEvac paramedics and RNs are credentialed to provide care in a pre-hospital setting, hold advanced certifications in critical care, and have extensive experience working in the emergency room (ER) and intensive care units.

Clinicians with education and experience in pediatric critical care provide care for children being transported to and from Children’s Hospital at Lehigh Valley Hospital. Women with a high-risk pregnancy gain peace of mind knowing they are receiving care from a crew with experience in maternal fetal medicine during the ride to the hospital. When not transporting patients, MedEvac crew members work in the health network’s ERs and critical care units to maintain their skill and proficiency in advanced critical care.

Words you might hear

When your loved one needs care, you will talk to many doctors and nurses. You also will hear words you might not understand. If you have any questions, please ask your loved one’s caregivers first. You can learn more about some common emergency care, trauma care and intensive care terms in this glossary.


A

ABG: Stands for arterial blood gas, a blood test that determines the amount of oxygen in the blood and the amount of oxygen therapy needed
A-line: Stands for arterial line, a thin, plastic tube placed into a patient’s artery. The line is connected to a machine that measures blood pressure. The line also helps caregivers take blood samples.
Anoxia: Lack of oxygen
Antibiotics: Medications that fight infections; antibiotics are given by mouth, IV (intravenous, see below) or NGT (nasogastric tube, see below).
ARDS: Stands for adult respiratory distress syndrome, a breathing difficulty caused by a condition that stiffens the lungs.


B

Brain death: The point when all brain functions stop working and will never work again; the patient is determined to be legally dead.


C

Cardiac contusion: Bruising of the heart
Cardiac monitor: An electronic device that measures heart and blood pressure and records the heart’s electrical activity
Cervical collar: A brace placed around the neck to prevent movement, also called an ASPEN or Philadelphia collar
Chest PT: A treatment that loosens mucus and fluids from the lungs; it may include gentle tapping on the chest and back, suctioning and coughing. It is sometimes called percussion or chest physiotherapy.
Chest tube: A tube inserted into the chest between the ribs to drain air or fluid from the lungs
Closed head injury: A condition caused by a blow to the head, sudden movement or a lack of oxygen to the brain
Collapsed lung: A completely or partially collapsed lung caused by a puncture or opening in the lung, blood or fluid
Coma: A condition of deep unconsciousness from which a patient cannot be awakened
Compression boots: Stocking-like leg or foot covers that inflate and deflate to improve circulation and prevent blood clots; they also are sometimes called sequential compression devices.
CPR: Stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation, emergency treatments to restore breathing and/or heartbeat; these may include mouth-to-mouth respiration and pressure to the chest, use of electrical shock, medications or a ventilator.
CT scan: A two-dimensional X-ray test used to diagnose many conditions that can examine almost any part of the body; it is sometimes called CAT scan or computerized axial tomography.
Culture: A sample of blood or other fluids that is tested for bacteria or other organisms
CVP: Stands for central line, a flexible plastic tube inserted into a patient’s vein; it allows a patient to receive blood, fluids or medication and also measures heart pressure. It sometimes is called a triple lumen catheter.


D

DNR: Stands for do not resuscitate; it is an instruction telling the care team not to apply CPR (see above) should a patient’s breathing or heartbeat stop. It is sometimes called “no code.”


E

Echocardiogram: A sound-wave test that creates a moving picture of the heart, sometimes called a 2-D Echo
EEG: Stands for electroencephalogram, a test that traces the brain’s electrical activity and determines whether or not the brain is functioning normally
EKG: Stands for electrocardiogram, a test that traces the heart’s electrical activity and determines whether or not the heart is functioning normally
ET tube: Stands for endotracheal tube, a plastic tube inserted through the mouth (or nose) into the windpipe to help with breathing; it can deliver oxygen or help remove secretions from the lung.


F

Face mask: A plastic mask placed over the nose and mouth to deliver oxygen, sometimes called an aerosol mask
Feeding tube: A soft, plastic tube placed in the nose or mouth that supplies liquid nourishment directly to the stomach
Foley catheter: A soft, plastic tube that drains urine from the bladder


G

GCS: Stands for Glasgow coma scale, a scoring system that describes a patient’s level of consciousness


H

Halo: A metal ring that prevents head movement in patients with certain kinds of neck injuries
Hematoma: A collection of blood resulting from broken blood vessels


I

ICP: Stands for intracranial pressure, the pressure within the head
Intracranial pressure monitor: A device inserted through the skull to measure the brain’s internal pressure; it is sometimes called a ventriculostomy.
IV line: Stands for intravenous line, a small, plastic tube inserted directly into a vein to deliver medications, blood, sugar and salt-water solutions


L

LAP: Stands for exploratory laparotomy, a surgical operation that identifies and repairs internal injuries to organs such as the kidneys, liver, spleen, stomach or intestines


M

MI: Stands for myocardial infarction, the clinical term for a heart attack
MRI: Stands for magnetic resonance imaging, a test providing images of a bone or body area using magnetism rather than X-rays


N

Nasal cannula: Small, plastic tubing placed at the opening of the nose to deliver oxygen, sometimes called an NC.
NGT: Stands for nastrogastric tube, a small, plastic tube inserted through the nose or mouth to temporarily deliver nourishment to or remove fluid from the stomach
Neurologic: Having to do with the brain, spinal cord or nerves


O

Oxygen: An element needed for breathing; patients with specific injuries may need an increased amount of oxygen.


P

Paralysis: A partial or complete inability to move voluntarily
Parapalegic: Paralysis of the lower half of the body, caused by injury to the spinal cord
PCA: Stands for patient-controlled analgesia, a device giving a patient control over the amount of pain medication he needs
PEG: Stands for gastrostomy tube, a soft, plastic tube placed in the stomach to deliver liquid nourishment
Pneumonia: An infection of the lungs
Pulmonary: Having to do with the lungs
Pulmonary contusion: Bruising of the lung
Pulse-OX: A device that measures the body’s oxygen level through the skin; it is sometimes called an oximeter.


Q

Quadriplegic: Paralysis from the neck down caused by a spinal cord injury


R

Rehabilitation: Treatment to help patients reach their highest possible level of functioning
Rounds: Scheduled visits by the care team (including doctors and nurses) to discuss a patient’s care


S

Sepsis: Bacteria or other organisms present in blood or body tissue
Splint: A rigid device that prevents movement in an injured area, such as a splint for a broken arm
Spinal cord injury: An injury to the spine that may cause paralysis because it interferes with messages getting to and from the brain; it is sometimes called an SCI.
Suction: The process of the removal of fluids or secretions
Swan Ganz catheter: A small, flexible plastic tube inserted through a large vein in the neck, upper chest or groin; it allows a cardiac monitor to display information about the heart. It is sometimes called a PA line or Swan.


T

TPN: Stands for total parenteral nutrition, an intravenous solution of calories, protein, vitamins and minerals administered when the stomach or intestinal tract cannot be used for nourishment
Trach: A procedure that places a small hole in the neck and windpipe to maintain an open airway; it is sometimes called a tracheostomy.
Trach tube: The small, plastic or metal tube that maintains an open airway; it is sometimes called a tracheostomy tube.
Traction: Weights and pressure used to hold fractured bones in the proper position for healing
Trauma rehab rounds: A weekly rehabilitation team meeting led by a physical medicine specialist (called a physiatrist); the team will discuss a patient’s needs and will recommend any possible follow-up treatment after hospital care.
Tube feeding: Liquid nourishment administered through a tube into the stomach or intestinal tract


V

Vent: Short for ventilator, a machine that delivers oxygen to the lungs to assist breathing
Vital signs: A patient’s temperature, rate of breathing, heart rate and blood pressure


W

Weaning: The gradual removal of treatment or medications as a patient’s condition improves


X

X-ray: A test that produces a one-dimensional picture of the body; it is used to diagnose structural injuries such as fractured bones.

LVHN MedEvac