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E.R. waits lessen
At Memorial Hospital
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer
Efforts by Memorial Hospital in Martinsville to help emergency room (ER) patients receive treatments more quickly are working.
The biggest part of that effort, officials said, is making sure more ER personnel are on duty at peak times.
Nationwide, the average length of time that patients stay in an emergency room is about four hours, said Marcus Stone, Memorial’s interim ER director.
That was roughly the average at Memorial’s ER two years ago, he indicated.
Since then, the average time spent in the hospital’s ER dropped to about three hours in 2013, and it has since fallen to about 2 1/2 hours, he said.
The average time that ER patients at Memorial spend in the waiting room before they enter “triage” — an initial assessment by a nurse — has fallen in the past two years by about five minutes, Stone said. It now is around seven minutes, he said.
Stone said the average time between when patients enter the ER until they see a doctor now is about 23 minutes, down from about 45 minutes two years ago.
He emphasized that patients arriving at the emergency room by ambulance always are seen immediately.
The reductions, he said, are largely due to “staff and physician engagement ... putting the right people together,” especially during peak hours.
Peak hours at Memorial generally are between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. Fewer patients usually come in overnight, Stone said.
During the overnight hours, one doctor usually is on duty in the ER, but at other times, usually two doctors and a physician’s assistant are on duty, he said.
Doctors are supplemented in the emergency room by nurses and certified nursing assistants. Stone said the total number of ER employees on duty at any particular time ranges from 15 to 18.
If the ER sees a sudden surge of patients and more doctors are needed, “hospitalists” — physicians who practice solely in the hospital — can be sent to the ER to help out, Stone said.
Hospitalists are on duty around the clock at Memorial, he said.