What to Expect

Medical emergencies are stressful, but knowing what to expect can help make the experience a little easier. At El Camino Health, keeping you well informed is an important part of our care.

When you arrive at our hospitals for emergency care, you’ll be evaluated by a triage nurse. After assessing the severity of your condition, the nurse will either bring you to a treatment area or ask you to sit in the waiting room. For your convenience, we post our current average wait times for emergency care (Mountain View / Los Gatos) so you know what to expect.

The order in which people are treated depends on the urgency of their illness or injury. People arriving by ambulance are often seen first, due to the severity of their condition. If your condition doesn’t require immediate medical attention, you may not be seen right away.

Interpretation services are available to all non-English speaking patients.

What to Bring to the Emergency Department

If the situation isn’t critical and you have the opportunity before you come to the hospital, gather the following items:

  • Photo ID
  • Medical insurance card
  • List of allergies, recent illnesses and chronic health conditions
  • Your doctor’s contact information
  • List of medications (prescription, over-the-counter and herbal)
  • Emergency contact list
  • Cell phone and charger

If You’re Admitted to the Hospital

When you come to the emergency department, you’ll be observed by a doctor to determine whether you need be admitted to the hospital. You won’t be considered an inpatient until your doctor writes orders for you to be admitted. This is important to know because pay rates are different for inpatient and outpatient services, and there may be differences in your insurance coverage as well.

If you’re admitted to the hospital, both you and the hospital should notify your insurance company. Learn more about our billing and insurance policies.

In addition, the following items may be useful for your hospital stay:

  • Assistive devices such as glasses, cane, walker or C-Pap machine.
  • Overnight bag with pajamas, toiletries and a change of clothing.
  • Small amount of money or credit card for small purchases.
  • Legal paperwork such as power of attorney, advance healthcare directive or other healthcare-related forms

To protect against loss or theft, please don't bring jewelry or other valuables.

After Your Visit

Thank you for trusting us to care for you or your loved one. After you receive emergency department care, you may receive a bill from the hospital, called a facility fee, and a bill from the provider who cared for you, called a professional fee. You may also receive statements from independent laboratories and radiology services. Learn more through the El Camino Hospital billing FAQs.

Get Extra Care & Support During Your Emergency Visit and Beyond

Care Management

If needed, El Camino Health has an expert team of social workers and case managers to help you with special needs. These include:

  • Coordination of your care in the hospital and after you return home
  • Connecting you and your family with community resources including long-term care options
  • Crisis intervention services
  • Resources for home health care, transportation and follow-up care

Most case management and social work services are available during business hours.

Palliative Care and Hospice Services

To help you and your family cope with serious illness, our case managers and social workers can connect you with resources for outpatient palliative and hospice services. We also have a dedicated inpatient palliative care service.

Addiction, Substance and Alcohol Use Services

The El Camino Health Emergency Department partners with the CA Bridge Program to provide access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for people suffering from opioid use or alcohol use disorders. We also dispense life-saving naloxone (Narcan) kits free of charge. During business hours, we have substance use navigators on site to help you transition to ongoing maintenance therapy and connect you with programs for addiction and substance use. You can call our Substance Use Navigator directly at 650-499-4883 (Mountain View) or 650-499-5242 (Los Gatos).

Spiritual Care

Our chaplains provide nonjudgmental, confidential spiritual counseling. If you would like to speak with a chaplain, please ask your nurse.

Interpreting Services

To make communication easier, we offer phone interpreter services for most languages, including American Sign Language.

Patient Feedback Survey

We value your feedback. Shortly following your discharge, we'll send you a survey invitation via text or email. This survey gives you an opportunity to recognize your healthcare team, tell us about your experience and share issues we can improve. We would appreciate if you can take a few minutes to complete this survey. You may also offer feedback for your medical provider here.

If you have immediate concerns during your visit, please speak with the charge nurse or discuss them directly with your care team so that we may address any issues in a timely manner.