Even by today's standards, New York City's emergency departments have been in a state of crisis. All told, EDs in the city handled more than 3.6 million visits in 2005, up 6 percent over 2000--with some hospitals seeing 50 percent volume increases or more during that period. The problem has gotten worse since a state commission ordered some city hospitals to close or merge with others, shrinking ED capacity in an already overstressed system. However, the hospitals are fighting back by expanding and remodeling their EDs, while adding new staff members whose job is to streamline the ED experience for patients and improve administration.
One notable example is Montefiore Medical Center, which runs the city's busiest ED. Not only has Montefiore added two new emergency rooms, one of which is just for children, it's also added another 7,000 square feet, brought on more doctors and nurses, and hired customer service reps who visit with patients on "comfort rounds" to offer extra pillows, free snacks and child care. The idea at Montefiore is not just to ease crowding, but also to make the ED experience more attractive to paying patients and boost inpatient revenue who come in through that channel.
Meanwhile, other hospitals in the city, such as St. Vincent's Hospital Manhattan, are creating fast-track options for patients with minor injuries. Others, also fighting for paying patients who come in through the ED, have added flat screen TVs and other amenities to ED rooms.
To learn about more of New York City's ED transformations:
- read this article in The New York Times
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