What to Expect

The emergency department at Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital is here when you need it. Specially trained staff and physicians are on-site 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and are prepared to help you in your emergency situations. Area rescue squads are able to communicate with us during transport, so that—when necessary—treatment can begin before you even enter the doors.


Triage is the name given to the process of determining the nature and urgency of your condition. You will go through the triage process when you first enter our emergency department.

  • Critical cases are those in which immediate death is imminent.
  • Emergent cases are situations that are life threatening or could be life-threatening if immediate treatment is not received.
  • Urgent cases are situations that are not life-threatening but could become so if medical treatment is not received within a reasonable amount of time.
  • Non-urgent cases include general medical complaints that could require one or two ancillary tests. Examples of non-urgent cases include fever, cough and headache.
  • Minor cases include complaints that do not necessarily require further tests beyond provider evaluation. Examples of minor cases include toothache and earache.

It is our practice to treat critical, emergent and urgent cases first in our emergency department.

Non-urgent and minor cases will be directed to our Fast-Track area for evaluation during times of operation.

Fast-Track hours are 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. seven days a week.


Our staff is prepared to treat trauma cases resulting from accidents, as well as critical care cases such as heart attacks and strokes.


Should your condition require transfer from our emergency department to another medical facility for further treatment, we will arrange transportation for you by either helicopter or ambulance.

Hazardous Materials Decontamination

Our emergency department is equipped to treat contamination from chemicals, bio-terrorist agents and other agents. Our equipment includes a decontamination tent, and our staff is specially trained in its use.

Arriving at Our Emergency Department

  • Bring a family member or friend with you if possible. Bring with you all of the medications you normally take, or bring a written list of your medications including the medication name, directions for use and dosage.
  • Bring a list of medicines that you are allergic to, including your reaction to them. Know the name of your family physician.
  • Know your medical history and be prepared to tell us about previous hospitalizations and surgeries that may be related to your current illness/problem.
  • If you are with a child, please know whether his/her immunizations are up to date.
  • If you have traveled outside the United States or to a foreign country, please tell us.
  • Bring all of your insurance cards with you. Know your address and Social Security Number. Providing us with this information will help speed up your registration and triage.

Emergency Department Courtesy

We allow one visitor at a time in the treatment area. If the patient is a child, both parents may stay.

We understand that sometimes children must come to the emergency department with you. For their health and safety, we request that when they are in the reception area they have an adult with them at all times.

We welcome visitors, but please remember that, with few exceptions, only one at a time will be allowed in the treatment area.

Leaving the Emergency Department

  • When you have been seen by a physician, treated and discharged, our staff will provide discharge instructions for you to take home, including any prescriptions that you need to have filled and recommendations for further treatment.
  • Should the physician decide that you need to be admitted, you will be moved directly from the emergency department to your room.