GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — A Guilford County couple spent 16 hours waiting in Cone Health’s emergency department.

They walked in at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday and did not get to see a doctor until 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday.

Drew Clark shared his in-law’s story and said hospital administration needs to do something to streamline staffing.

“My in-laws are sitting there saying ‘this is the worst I’ve ever been.’ ‘This is the worst I’ve ever felt,'” Clark said.

Clark’s father-in-law needed medical help after post-COVID symptoms made him extremely weak. The 85-year-old didn’t want to be identified but allowed Clark to share how he sat in the hospital waiting room with his family for an hour before an employee told him everyone had to leave except his wife because of COVID restrictions.

“My mother-in-law was pretty frustrated…she was pretty scared,” Clark said.

They waited and waited, hoping a doctor would come.

“Midnight, we text them again. Nobody has approached them. Nobody has said anything about any kind of medicine or position to come care for them. The only answer was we don’t have enough beds,” Clark said.

Clark knows how quickly people’s health can decline, especially the elderly.

“I’ve been involved in emergency services for over 31 years, and dehydration will kill a senior citizen,” Clark said. “He’s getting sicker by the minute if care is not administered.”

After 16 hours, Clark’s wife sent him a text saying a doctor sent them home with a prescription to treat pneumonia.

“I feel like the system at Cone is letting the general public down, and they don’t know it until they have to go to treatment,” Clark said.

FOX8 reached out to Cone Health leaders for a comment on the story. Their full statement is included below.

“Emergency departments everywhere are extremely busy due to high numbers of people seeking care and persistent staff shortages throughout health care.

The primary job of emergency departments is to care for heart attacks, strokes, major traumas and other life-threatening situations. Cone Health continues having nationally leading response times in caring for those patients. We must prioritize care for others according to urgency.

Remember that the federal government still maintains a national emergency due to COVID-19. That means that hospitals are required to institute preventative measures such as social distancing. That greatly reduces the number of visitors who can be in our waiting rooms. Unfortunately, to maintain safe distances, we occasionally must ask people to leave.

As always, we encourage people to come to the emergency department if they are experiencing life-threatening symptoms. If you experience chest pain, trouble moving an arm or a leg, trouble speaking, or have a traumatic injury, call 911 immediately. 

If you need medical attention for cough, fever, fatigue and other flu-like symptoms, or for conditions such as ear and eye infections, skin problems (minor burns, rashes, and insect bites), please contact your primary care provider or consider an urgent care center or telemedicine visit.

Visit for quick access to options for care.”

–Cone Health