Emergency Department


If you are having an emergency, call 911.

Emergency Department Address: (located at the right rear of the main entrance to the hospital)
17 Belmont Avenue, Brattleboro, VT 05301

Emergency Department telephone number: 802-257-8222

The Brattleboro Memorial Hospital Emergency Department provides excellent emergency services to patients throughout a three-state region that includes northwest MA, southeast VT and southwest NH. (Geographical service area.)

The BMH Emergency Department is a Level III trauma center, staffed 24-hours a day, 365 days a year by advanced trauma, cardiac, and pediatric life-support certified physicians and experienced nurses. The department and its staff treat more than 12,000 individuals each year.

When seconds count, you can count on BMH to provide needed emergency care that includes:

  • An emergency physician on duty at all times
  • Six treatment rooms that can accommodate up to eight patients and provide privacy and a comfortable setting
  • Diagnostic mental health services and a dedicated room to provide a private and compassionate setting for individuals experiencing acute mental health conditions
  • A negative pressure environment to ensure patient and staff safety when treating potentially infectious diseases and hazardous materials contamination
  • On-site diagnostic imaging (CT scanning and MRI) and around the clock laboratory services that provide patients with rapid diagnosis and treatment
  • Bedside monitoring and enhanced communication technology for deaf patients
  • Critical patient transport to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center
  • Access to respiratory therapy and advanced cardiac technology
  • Patient Liaisons to provide comfort and information to patients and their family

What will happen when you arrive in the BMH Emergency Department?

First, you will be quickly evaluated and triaged…

When you arrive in the emergency department, either by ambulance or by walking in, you will be triaged to ensure that patients with the most critical emergencies receive care first. Depending on your medical symptoms, you may be brought directly to our emergency treatment area or be asked to have a seat in the waiting room.

Next, you will be registered…

The unit coordinator will ask for your name and address, a photo ID, your health insurance information, (no person will be refused care because of insurance), your primary care doctor’s name, and emergency contact information. It is important that we have accurate information from you.

People are seen at triage and registration in the order in which they arrive. Once your medical condition is evaluated, you move into a priority queue based upon the severity of your symptoms. This priority system is revised constantly, so people who have arrived after you may be seen before you. Please let a nurse or unit coordinator know if your condition changes while you are waiting.

Patients in the emergency department fall into four levels of severity.

Severity Levels

  • Emergent – most serious or life-threatening conditions that require immediate life-saving care, such as heart attack, stroke, critical illnesses, or catastrophic injuries from accidents.
  • Acute – illnesses or injuries that are less pressing, such as mild stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, or broken bones.
  • Chronic or minor – conditions such as cuts, sprains, or urinary tract infections.
  • Stable – least critical conditions that don’t require lab tests or X-rays.

After examination, possible testing, and diagnosis of your illness, you will receive treatment…

Depending on the severity of your condition and/or test results, the emergency physician may:

  • Send you home with instructions. If necessary, the department staff may make arrangements for follow-up with your own primary care doctor (if you do not have a primary care doctor, we can suggest one), or for you to see a specialist.
  • Refer you to a BMH consulting physician or specialist who will decide whether or not to admit you to the hospital.

Make sure you understand all instructions before you leave.

  • Board-certified physicians trained in Advanced Cardiac Life Support, Advanced Trauma Life Support, and Pediatric Advanced Life Support
  • An emergency nursing staff that holds Advanced Cardiac Life Support Certification. Many nurses hold certifications in Trauma Nursing, Pediatric Advanced Life Support, and Neonatal Resuscitation. Others are also Certified Emergency Nurses according to the National Emergency Nurse Association
  • Immediate availability and activation of respiratory therapists, radiologist, and laboratory diagnostic testing
  • A “hospitalist” and an admissions nurse who coordinate admissions and all subsequent care for patients who need inpatient hospital services
  • In-house surgical team and other specialists, including pediatricians on call
  • Emergency Department technicians who perform a variety of duties that support nurses in the delivery of emergency treatment during peak hours
  • Patient liaisons that are trained in the compassionate caring of patients
  • Nurse practitioners and physician assistants who support physicians and reduce the length of time to receive treatment during peak hours
  • Unit coordinators who ensure the quick flow of patients into and through the emergency department and provide logistical support to all emergency department staff

When medically necessary, critically ill or injured patients are transported to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center by helicopter or ground ambulance. This comprehensive emergency air and ground transportation program provides critical care level treatments during rapid transport from the BMH helipad or accident scenes to D-HMC. Transport vehicles are staffed by specially trained RNs and paramedics. This service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The program is a partnership between Rescue Inc., Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

Q: When should I go to the emergency department?
A: When you believe you are experiencing a serious or life-threatening illness or injury you should call 911 for immediate emergency medical treatment and transport to the hospital. For less serious illnesses, you should call your primary care physician, who may advise you to go to the emergency department or come for an office visit.  Many patients come to the emergency department asking for routine care or treatment for minor ailments that could be treated by a family physician. That is not what the emergency department is for – the emergency department is for acute care on an emergency basis. Since no one can be refused care when they arrive, you may be using staff and resources that would otherwise help other patients with more acute medical conditions. This often results in longer wait time and longer periods of time for patients to receive needed treatment.

Q: Why do I have to wait?
A: While waiting for care in the ER can be frustrating, we want you to know that we are doing everything we can to see you as soon as possible. We hope the following facts may help provide some understanding.

  • Emergency departments nationwide must evaluate and treat everyone who arrives, regardless of their ability to pay; no one gets “turned away”.
  • Brattleboro Memorial Hospital sees over 12,000 patients per year in the emergency department.
  • The number of uninsured patients continues to grow and they may have nowhere, other than the emergency department, to turn to for care.
  • Diagnosing your emergency condition may require laboratory tests or X-rays, which take time to be processed.
  • Patients needing admission to the hospital may remain in the emergency room because there are no beds immediately available in the hospital.
  • Complicated trauma, cardiac or neurological emergencies such as car accidents, heart attacks, and strokes require a great deal of resources and may tie up the medical staff.
  • Ambulance patients arrive in the emergency department frequently, making the department busy even when the waiting room appears empty.

Please know that your wait time might help emergency department staff save a life.

Q. When can my family visit?
A. Brattleboro Memorial Hospital encourages family-centered care. Adult patients have the right to refuse visitors from being in the emergency room. In the best interest of all the patients, we ask that:

  • Families follow instructions given by the nurse with regards to limiting the number of visitors and noise level;
  • Visitors respect the privacy of other patents and not wander freely through the department; and
  • Families have one person to act as their spokesperson to decrease confusion and make communications between staff and family easier;

Q: How do I contact the emergency department?
A: If you need to contact the emergency department for any reason, you can call 802-257-8222. If you call to inquire about the medical condition of a patient who is in the emergency department, you need to know that, by regulation, we cannot provide you with personal health information on any patient without his/her written consent, even if you are a spouse, close relative, or friend.

Q: Who pays for an emergency department visit?
A: Most insurance companies cover the cost of an emergency department visit, although you may be responsible for a co-payment. Every health insurance plan is different, so you should check your health insurance benefits packet to learn how much you will have to pay and what approval/ or referrals from your primary care doctor may be required prior to you coming to the emergency department. You are not required to pay for your emergency room visit on the day you arrive or upon leaving the hospital. Your health insurance company or you (if you are a self-payer), will receive a bill from the hospital for all charges incurred during your visit to the emergency room. You can contact the hospital billing department if you should have any questions regarding charges or payment.

Q: Will I be treated differently if I am unable to pay?
A: Everyone who arrives at the emergency department for care is entitled to medical treatment – no one can be turned away because of their inability to pay. You will receive the necessary testing, medication, and treatment for your specific medical condition, without consideration of the type of health insurance you may have or your ability to pay.  If you have a financial hardship, you may be eligible to apply for government programs that help defray the cost of your visit. You can inquire about these programs by calling the BMH Financial Counseling at 802-257-8240.

Q: How do I let someone know I received quality care?
A: Your feedback is welcomed and appreciated. You will receive a patient satisfaction survey in the mail shortly after your emergency department visit. We encourage you to complete the survey to let us know about your experience with the emergency department staff and the treatment you received. We use this information to continuously improve the quality of our services and to better meet the needs of our patients. Of course, notes and letters with compliments can also be sent to the Emergency Department Manager at the hospital.

Q: What if I need an interpreter?
A: If you do not speak English and you do not have another adult you feel is appropriate to interpret for you, an interpreter service can be made available to you. This service is free and is an important tool for ensuring accurate, private, and confidential communication between the medical staff and our non-English speaking patients.

Q: How do I make a complaint?
A: Our goal is to provide the best care possible and ensure that every patient is satisfied before they leave the hospital, so we want to know when we failed to meet your needs and expectations.  Your suggestions and comments will help us improve and change what we do for future patients. If you would like to tell someone how we can improve, you can send your comments to the Emergency Department Manager.

Q: How do I find more information about my medical condition?
A: Your primary care physician is the best source of information about your medical condition. He/she may also have written information about your specific medical condition, which can be given or sent to you. The hospital website contains patient information about a number of medical conditions as well as a number of websites that you can search for additional information you may want. If you do not have access to the Internet, your public library can be a good resource. The more you know about your condition, the better you’ll be able to help your caretakers get you well or healed.

Emergency mental health services are supported through a contract with Health Care and Rehabilitation Services, Inc. A 24-hour-a-day emergency mental health screening service provided by Health Care and Rehabilitation Services staff is available for people of all ages. This service is evaluative in nature and can provide some crisis stabilization when appropriate. Once the assessment is completed, a referral may be made for treatment, inpatient services, or follow-up care to other community services.

Our “Patient Liaison” program is structured around dignity and respect, information sharing, participation and teamwork because we understand medical emergencies affect not only the patient, but his or her family and friends as well. The structure of our program places the patient liaison in continual communication with the family – acting as a link between the patient, family and the medical team, keeping all parties involved apprised of the patient’s medical situation. The patient liaison helps patients and their loved ones cope with illness or injury. We know this helps to ensure a satisfactory visit to the emergency department and reduces the patient’s concern for their loved ones and allows him or her to focus on healing. In addition, patient liaisons help to decrease wait time by performing comfort tasks so our nurses and other staff can focus on the patients’ health and well being.

The Patient Liaisons are available from 10:00 AM – 10:00 PM, weekdays, and from 2:00 PM – 10:00 PM on the weekends.