ER strategy: Streamlining care for patients with less serious illnesses

Medesto, California-based Memorial Medical Center invested $3.7 million to expand its emergency department to increase space for true emergency patients, while streamlining care for those with less serious illnesses, The Modesto Bee reported.

The design includes additional seating in the lobby aimed to reduce patient wait times, while private triage areas allow nurses to speak with patients and physician assistants who can order blood test or x-rays, according to the article. Clinicians will treat less ill patients in one of four new rapid medical evaluation areas, and by the time they see a doctor, tests ordered during triage will be ready for the physician to review. This frees up beds for patients who need more serious medical attention.

The expansion also includes two triage stations and a separate room for electrocardiograms for patients with chest pain, as well as additional work stations for patients monitoring, the Bee reported.

Instead of children's toys in waiting areas, which can harbor germs, the emergency department lobby has an interactive play area that projects images on the wall for children to  play with by waving their hands, according to the article.

Hospital leaders hope the new system and extra space will reduce wait times by 25 percent from the average 3.5 hour stay, after seeing the number of emergency room patients grow to 70,000 in 2012, according to the article.

The mission is similar to the approach recently taken by Florida Hospital. The hospital opened a new 42,000 square-foot emergency room at its Tampa campus that features triage rooms, isolation rooms, special rooms for pediatric patients in order to maximize efficiency and prioritize patient comfort, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

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