San Diego emergency rooms are overcrowded and overused according to local health officials.
Public health officials held a press conference at the Country Administration Center Friday to remind residents to use the ER only in emergencies.
Since 2009, more than half of San Diego emergency room visits were for non-emergencies experts said.
Because of the dramatic uptick in ER use wait times are increasing and resources are being stretched too far.
“When that happens that ambulance is out of commission and delays next response to the next emergency,” Don Butz, the president of the Fire Chief’s Association told NBC 7. “It also ties up our fire engines because they are giving first care.”
Butz explained that when an ambulance is called for a non-emergency it affects more than just the hospital and slows response times to actual crises.
Officials stressed the importance of preventive care, which includes enrolling in health coverage and having a primary care doctor.
Butz, Wilma Wooten, the County Public Health Officer, Dimitrios Alexiou, President and CEO of the Hospital Association of San Diego and Imperial Counties, Nora Faine, Medical Director of Molina Healthcare of California and John Ohanian, President and CEO of 211 San Diego all spoke at the press conference.