Outpatient Observation Unit

There are times when our patients seek treatment in our Emergency Department and require additional testing and evaluation. In order to make you as comfortable as possible while treatment continues, you will be moved to the UPMC Western Maryland Observation Unit.

About the Observation Unit

The Observation Unit, a separate area on the 5th floor of the West Wing, is dedicated to our patients who require additional assessment. It has bright, spacious rooms equipped with flat-screen TVs and telephones. A stay in the Observation Unit is an alternative to a hospital admission.

What to Expect During Your Stay

We will continue to evaluate you during your stay in the Observation Unit. Along with a special team of RNs assigned to the Observation Unit, specialists, such as a cardiologist or neurologist, might become involved in your care if necessary.

We monitor all vital signs and heart rhythm. If necessary, you may also have an intravenous (IV) line inserted and be provided oxygen to make breathing easier. Additional tests may include frequent blood work, EKGs, echocardiograms, X-rays, CT scans, ultrasounds, and MRIs. The turnaround time for test results is fast-tracked so your condition can be assessed as quickly as possible.

How Long Will I Be in Observation?

A typical observation stay lasts between 12 and 23 hours.  However, in rare circumstances, your stay can extend to 48 hours.

Once all of your results are reported as normal, you will be discharged home. Of course, if it becomes clear that your condition is not responding to treatment, you will be admitted to the appropriate area of the hospital.

Will You Contact My Family Doctor?

Typically, your physician will not see you during your stay in the Observation Unit.  However, he/she will have access to your test results and other information about your stay in the Observation Unit.  If you need to be admitted to the hospital, your family doctor or his/her covering doctor will take care of you on the inpatient unit.

Can My Family Stay With Me?

Visitor policies are subject to change. To view our current visitation policies, please click here.

It is important to keep your family informed about your condition since you may be discharged at any time and will need transportation home.

Will I Be Served Meals?

At mealtime, you will receive a hospital meal as ordered by your provider. At times, due to your condition, your meals may be held to allow for testing or further evaluation by specialists. Your meal will be served as soon as the provider allows.

Hospital meals are not provided for family members in the Observation Unit. Family members are welcome to visit our cafeteria, which is located on the second floor of the hospital. Food service is available 24 hours a day.

Dining Services



UPMC Western Maryland Outpatient Observation Unit
12500 Willowbrook Road
Cumberland, MD 21502
Phone: 240-964-5600