LOCK HAVEN - When a health emergency occurs and you find yourself in the local emergency room, one of your top questions is likely to be, "how soon will I see a doctor?" Health care emergencies can be frightening. Being seen by a physician or clinical professional soon after your arrival in the emergency room (ER) goes a long way to ensure peace of mind.
Respecting the importance of prompt service, Lock Haven Hospital offers a 30-Minutes-or-Less ER Service Pledge. The physicians and staff work diligently to have each ER patient initially seen by a clinical professional a physician, a physician's assistant or a nurse practitioner within 30 minutes of arrival.
"We launched this pledge because we understand when you're not feeling well, you don't want to spend hours in an ER lobby waiting to see a doctor," says Hinda Greene, DO, Emergency Medical Director, Lock Haven Hospital "The initiative is about providing prompt and compassionate care and most importantly, it is part of our ongoing hospital-wide quality improvement processes."
"Since Lock Haven Hospital launched the 30-Minutes-or-Less ER Service Pledge in February 2011 it has been very well received by patients," says Greene. From February 2011 to June 2012, ER wait times have averaged 15 minutes or less.
To establish average wait times, patients are tracked from the time they register to the time they are initially seen by a physician.
"Judging from the number of calls I receive, the community appreciates the hospital's transparency, and the convenience of having the average times published weekly," said John Zidansek chief executive officer, Lock Haven Hospital. National average wait time is one hour, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"We believe this service pledge distinguishes Lock Haven Hospital from other health care providers in the area, and underlines our commitment to the people who live and work in the Lock Haven community, says Zidansek. "The purpose of the 30-Minutes-or-Less ER Service Pledge is to assure patients that we are dedicated to offering quality care, and to providing that care as efficiently and quickly as possible."
"Although the goal is to initially see every patient within 30 minutes, the most critical health emergencies will always receive top priority," says Greene. During triage, the staff determines the level of severity of a patient's illness or injury.
"While we are committed to prompt and appropriate care for ER patients, the 30-Minutes-or-Less ER Service Pledge should not be misinterpreted as an effort to rush patients though the ER," Greene adds. "We've changed our work flow and processes to better accommodate our patients. The entire team of employees and the ER physicians are committed to this pledge, long-term."
Other Lock Haven Hospital ER service enhancements include a callback process to check on discharged patients. "Within three days of their discharge from the ER, we try to reach patients by phone to find out if they have questions about prescriptions or other discharge instructions," explains Greene "It's also a good opportunity to learn ways we can continue to improve our service and to hear about employees and physicians who provided excellent service. The patients really appreciate this extra step."
Barbara Shultz, RN, BSN is the Director of Emergency Services, Lock Haven Hospital.