Patients are seen faster in renovated emergency department

October 21, 2019

The renovation of Clark Memorial Health’s emergency department has already made a big difference in how quickly patients are receiving care, says Bryan Boone, director of emergency services.

Officially completed in September, the redesigned space has led to the ability to implement new processes that cut down on patients’ waiting times.

“It’s helped to reduce the number of patients who leave without being treated. That’s a key measure we look at,” Bryan says. “We have a percentage of patients who come in and want to be treated, but for whatever reason – usually it’s because of wait time – they end up leaving. They decide, ‘I’m not sick enough to sit here this long, I’m out.’ By doing these processes, we’ve really cut that number down in half over the last few months – and that’s with a growing volume of patients.”

Changes in the triage process are a key factor in the decreased wait times.

“We’ve implemented a process called pull-to-full, where if there’s a room open, patients bypass triage and go straight to a room,” Bryan says. “Instead of waiting for that one triage room in the front to sit down, talk to a nurse, get medical history and vital signs, you just go to the back, go to a room, and get your vital signs and medical history at the bedside. The physician can see you sooner, even before your medical history is completed.”

Once the pull-to-full process does result in full rooms, a provider placed in that front triage room can start treating patients who are waiting for a room to open up.

“Now we have a provider there – a physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner who can go ahead and start care,” Bryan says. “So instead of just sitting, you’re being treated. Labs can be drawn, X-rays can be completed, medications can be given. It’s taken that wait time to instead of being non-productive, idle sitting time, now care is being done during that.”

The new layout of the ER also provides better privacy for patients and makes it easier for clinicians to move through the space and keep patients in clear sight.

Bryan says the spikes and general increase in patient volume continue to be a challenge for the emergency department, but he sees his team only continuing to improve from here.

“To take care of an ER full of patients is challenging, and then trying to do it amidst a department that’s being renovated – one day your equipment is in one place and the next day it’s in a totally different place; one day your room numbers are one way and the next day they’re numbered another way; we had to close down some of our space so we had less rooms,” he says. “So the people that have stuck it out and worked in it, I just want to make sure they get enough attention. I’m really proud of the nurses, techs and physicians that have taken care of patients amidst all the changes.”