Emergency Department

Our Philosophy and Goal

In the course of a year, more than 26,000 people arrive at our Emergency Room to seek care and treatment. Some of these patients arrive in an ambulance, some arrive by car and some even come here by bus, taxi or walking. Our goal is to treat each and every patient as quickly and effectively as possible. We provide the highest level of medical care with a great deal of compassion and sensitivity.

Download the PDF brochure on our Emergency Department here.


Upon arrival, you will be asked to give your name to our Volunteer or Registration Clerk at the front desk. This will begin the process for you to be seen in the Emergency Department (ED). After signing in, you will be called by a Nurse who will begin an assessment including your vital signs. The information collected will be put in the computer as part of your permanent medical record. Once in a treatment room, another Nurse, followed by the ED provider will ask you more detailed questions.

Triage is a French word that means “to sort”. The role of the Triage Nurse is to make sure that the patients with the most serious injuries or illnesses are seen first. We do not see patients according to the time they arrive in the Main ED. Patients are triaged according to the seriousness of their injury or illness. As soon as an appropriate room is available, you will be taken to a treatment room. If a room is not available, you may be asked to wait in the waiting room. If you are asked to wait, please notify the Triage Nurse or Volunteer of any change in your condition.

Non-Emergency Care

Fast Track is where patients with less acute injuries or illnesses can be seen more quickly. Fast Track operates during specific times daily and is staffed by Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants. 

Please note that if a patient is appropriate to be seen in Fast Track, he/she may be expedited into the treatment area sooner than patients waiting to be seen in the Main ED.

Who Provides Emergency Room Care

The ED team consists of Nurses, Paramedics, Nurse Practitioners, Physician Assistants and Physicians who are all specifically trained in emergency medicine. Many of the Nurses also have other specialty certifications.

A Nurse Practitioner (NP) is a registered nurse with advanced training. NPs are required to have a Master’s Degree and must pass a certification exam. They work in collaboration with the ED physician. A Physician Assistant (PA) is a graduate of an accredited educational program. PAs are nationally certified and state licensed to practice medicine with the supervision of the ED physician. All PAs that work in the Watkin’s Center have attained their Master’s Degrees. Both NPs and PAs have advanced training in diagnosing, treating and managing injuries and illnesses. They are able to prescribe medications and perform certain procedures. The NPs and PAs at The Watkins Center Emergency Department share similar roles and work as part of a team with the ED physician.

In some cases, they will provide all the care you receive, in consultation with the ED physician as necessary.

The ED Physicians doctors who work at Heywood Hospital are all Board Certified and have special training, skills or experience in providing emergency care. The emergency room doctor on duty oversees the care of all patients who comes into the Emergency Department. In some cases, the Physician may treat you. In other cases, the Physician will oversee the care provided to you by our mid-level providers (NPs and PAs). 

Please do not hesitate to ask your doctor questions, and to make it clear when you do not understand something. We also suggest that you ask the nurse who gives you instructions upon discharge to explain anything you did not understand.

The on-duty ED Physician is available for consult to any patient. Please just as your mid-level provider to spea


In some cases, a patient's condition may require us to transfer them to another facility such as UMass Medical Center in Worcester for a higher level of care. Sometimes this transfer takes place in a helicopter, and sometimes it is made by ambulance. In every case, our doctors will do everything they can to stabilize the patient before transporting him or her.


It is very important that you understand and follow any discharge instructions. If you do not understand the instruction or have questions, please ask! Patients are responsible for their own care after they leave the ED and are strongly encouraged to arrange follow-up appointments with their primary care physician and specialists as directed.

You may be randomly selected to complete a survey about your experience in the ED. It will be mailed to you shortly after your visit. Fill it out and return it in the prepaid envelope. Additionally, a member of the ED staff may call you at home to inquire about your health and visit after discharge.

We also have patient satisfaction cards that you may fill out should you have any feedback that you would like to share immediately. Ask the ED Staff for a card if you would like to complete one or feel free to call the Patient Satisfaction Hot Line at (978) 630-6538. Quality is very important in the ED, and your constructive feedback will help us make your future visits positive ones.  

We care about what you think, and value your opinions on how we can better meet your needs for emergency care and treatment. Thank you.

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