It takes a village to tackle hospital ER overcrowding

Guest post by Scott Kashman, chief administrative officer of Cape Coral Hospital, part of the Lee Memorial Health System in southwest Florida.

Around the country there is often discussion about emergency room overcrowding. Realistically, not all ERs really get overcrowded. Down in Southwest Florida, however, they do.

Last season (known as late fall/winter), the area experienced a surge in population--and we experienced an even larger surge of patients coming into our ERs and hospitals.

This coming season, we are trying a different approach that we can build on through the season and throughout the year. This requires our health system and key community partners to provide a more coordinated approach to delivering healthcare in our community.

We pulled together a smaller system-wide bed capacity and flow oversight group to provide rules of engagement. Some of these included:

  • Use a larger steering group to represent different parts of the health system and even the community (for example, emergency medical services)
  • Serve as a platform to centralize and share ideas. Then replicate and spread best practices.
  • Focus on one overall outcome with project specific goals, which ultimately improve flow. In our case, we rallied around ER patient holds once patients were in admission status.
  • Generate ideas and focus on the most meaningful and impactful ones during this coming season, and implement down the line with longer-term benefits.
  • Focus on implementing ideas by leveraging the "system of care," including pre-hospital care, ER, inpatient, discharge process and post-acute. Measurements are identified for each project in support of the overall bed capacity and flow goals.

The ultimate goal is to keep people healthier at home or in the right place for care.

>> Read the full commentary at Hospital Impact

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