EL PASO, Texas -

Fort Bliss commanding general Dana Pittard is asking soldiers and family members to only go to William Beaumont Army Medical Center's emergency room when it is a serious illness or an injury.

"I spoke to one Soldier from 3/1 AD last week who stated that he and his wife waited ten hours to be seen at the Emergency Room last week," Pittard wrote in his Fort Bliss Monitor column this week. "That is totally unacceptable! In the future, if you wait for more than two hours before you are seen at WBAMC then call your chain of command immediately. Our standard is only a two-hour waiting period."

Pittard added that part of the problem is that soldiers and family members are going to the ER rather than their primary care clinic.

"Approximately half the patients seen in the emergency room are treated for non-emergent care," Pittard wrote. "If we could limit the WBAMC ER to only Soldiers and Family members with serious emergencies or illnesses, we could significantly reduce the wait time. The emergency room is intended for an injury or illness that would endanger or seriously harm a person’s life or health if not treated immediately by a licensed medical professional. Remember that all patients arriving at the emergency room are triaged. This is a constant assessment to determine who needs care now, and who can wait.

Pittard has tasked Col. Michael S. Heimall, WBAMC's commander, to enforce the two hour maximum wait time standard.