BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (WTNH) — Getting screened while you wait in the emergency department is now a national program, and a Connecticut hospital is at the heart of it.

It’s estimated that every year, half of the U.S. population will find themselves in the emergency department as a patient or visitor, and spending four hours on average there. Add that to the number of thousands looking into a career in health care. You now have the impetus for the National Alliance of Research Associate Programs with the hub at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport.

“If you are waiting here in the emergency department, what can we do to make that wait time even more valuable for you?” said founder Dr. Keith Bradley. “Our particular focus is how we can facilitate primary healthcare issues here in the emergency department, and give value added to that time that they are going to be spending here in the emergency department, that inevitable wait time. How do we make that better for them?”

So while waiting, people like Barbara Gagner are getting screened by Omkar Betageri and Giulia Taccheri. In this case, for a breast and cervical study.

“We ask them some questions about their history of cervical and breast cancer,” said Taccheri. “We get their information about what, if they have a primary care practitioner, do they have access to an OB-GYN?”

“These studies are really unique because they are designed to provide them with information about how to get certain screenings, as well as for us clinical research associates to get information on how we can improve the widespread access to these different screening procedures,” said Betageri.

Both are applying to medical school.

“It has been a huge help for me not only to get involved in the clinical research, but really get some meaningful interaction when you can walk into a room and feel like you’re making an impact on someone’s life,” said said Betageri.

Most do find value to answering the questions.

“It kinda encourages you to seek out the physicians you should be going to and really take care of yourself, not just the people you are visiting or seeing in the ER,” said Gagner.

In all, there are 20 hospitals in the National Alliance of Research Associate Programs. There is also a tobacco cessation program component to it, with thousands being referred to help quit lines for people who want the help.

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