ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — A visit to the emergency room in the Rockford area could involve a wait anywhere from 30 minutes to 10 hours as local hospitals reach capacity caring for a surge of COVID-19 patients.

Two women told Eyewitness News their experience was around 8 hours each, with one saying she lost nearly 3 units of blood during that time.

Jennifer Knight said she is thankful her father is alive after having a pulmonary embolism. He was taken to the emergency room at OSF Saint Anthony.

“He was having a lot of trouble breathing and it was with every breath, he was just gasping,” she said. “He basically just watched as people came in and came out, and I know that there were people who just got frustrated and ended up leaving.”

Knight’s dad would spend the next nine days in the hospital.

“They ended up doing a CT scan at, like, hour six that he was there, and then at hour eight a doctor came out and got him out of the emergency waiting room, and took him back,” she recalled. “It was a fairly large clot and those can be deadly if they aren’t treated right away.”

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, hospital beds and nursing staff have faced shortages, with some people waiting hours to be seen by a doctor.

“I walked in and said, ‘I think I’m miscarrying,'” said Courtney Edginton. “I’m eight or nine weeks along and I was parked out in the emergency room waiting room, until a room was available.”

Nearly seven hours later, Edginton said she was finally seen at Javon Bea Mercyhealth Riverside, but at that point she had lost a lot of blood.

“While I was in there getting a D&C (dilation and curettage), they had to put three, almost four, units of blood transfused into me, so I very closely died that day,” she said.

Knight says in her experience, local hospital staff just can’t meet the demand right now.

“There are a lot of empty beds. There’s just not enough nurses to accommodate all those patients,” she said.

Hospitals say there has been a nursing shortage for years, even before COVID hit, but the pandemic has only made it worse.