Information for Patients Referred to the University Hospital BerbeeWalsh Emergency Department

General Questions

(608) 263-6400 (Hospital Switchboard)




Parking is available in the ramp at the Emergency Department's entrance. If you go through the gate, please bring your ticket inside with you.


If your family member is admitted to the Clinical Decision Unit (CDU) in the Emergency Department, please park in the Patient and Visitors Parking Ramp.




Check in at the desk in the Emergency Department (ED) waiting room. Staff will need your name and birth date and will ask you questions about your illness or injury.



UW Hospital and Clinics Emergency Department


You will then be seen by a nurse to help determine the severity of your illness or injury. The nurse will take a set of vital signs (your temperature, heart rate, breathing rate and blood pressure). If all of the patient rooms are full, you may be asked to wait in the waiting room, however, we will attempt to get you into an exam room as soon as possible.


Please know, even if the clinic called us to let us know you would be coming, we will evaluate the severity of your illness and injury and you will be seen as soon as possible, however, there may be some waiting time.


Patient Care Area


You may notice other patients being taken to a room before you, even if they arrived after you. We see the sickest and most severely injured patients first. Patients may also be arriving to the ED by ambulance and helicopter. If you have questions about the wait time, please check in at the desk. Once a room is available for you, staff will help you to the room.


Length of Stay


The length of time you are in the ED will depend on the tests you need and whether you need to be seen by a specialist. An ED visit can range from 4 to 6 hours. Rarely, the ED visit may last longer. You may be admitted to the hospital or admitted to the Clinical Decision Unit (CDU) in the ED, depending on the length of time you are expected to stay in the hospital.


Although we make every effort to provide care in a timely manner, there can be delays. The following chart will help you plan for your visit with us. Times may vary based on the factors listed below.


Emergency visit About 2-3 hours
Emergency visit plus CT scan, lab tests or other test About 4 hours
Emergency visit plus specialty doctor or admission to the hospital About 6 hours







Your visit time will also depend on

  • Your level of illness or injury and that of other patients.
  • The number of patients being treated.
  • The number of patients that arrive by ambulance.



You will meet several people who will help take care of you, including doctors, nurses and ED Technicians. Each room has a list of all of the care providers you may meet on a board in the room. Please let staff know if you have any questions. At times, the ED doctors and nurses might ask you many of the same questions you have already been asked. This is done to clarify information or obtain more details about your illness or injury, in order to take better care of you.


Learn more about the members of your health care team in the ED


Admission or Discharge?


As we learn more about the care you need from the tests that are done and the staff that see you, we will be able to tell you if you will need to stay in the hospital or if you will be able to go home.


If you need to stay in the hospital, we will help you and your family with any questions or concerns you have. A social worker or case manager may meet with you to make sure you understand the plan of care.


If you require a longer stay and more extensive evaluation than a typical ED visit, but not long enough to require hospital admission, you may be admitted to our Clinical Decision Unit (CDU) which is part of the Emergency Department. You may have some tests done while you are in this area. This is a quiet area where we want you to be comfortable and get some rest.


If you are able to go home, we will give you instructions about taking care of yourself at home. You may also be given a prescription if there are any medicines we would like you to take. Often, we can send the prescription directly to the phmarcy of your choice. We like to call all of our patients the day after their ED visit to see how they are feeling and if they have any questions.


Facts About Our Emergency Department

  • We are one of only two major trauma/burn centers (Level 1) for adults and children in Wisconsin.
  • In addition to routine visits, we provide care to very ill or injured patients sent to us from other hospitals.
  • We admit more patients to the hospital than many other Emergency Departments across the country.
  • We see about 130 patients each day - or 47,000 patients each year.
  • More than 25% of our patients are children.
  • About 25% of our patients arrive by ambulance. 

You might also receive a survey in the mail a few weeks after your ED visit. Please fill out the survey so we can make sure we are doing the best we can for our patients.