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January 24, 2014

Norwich hospital aims to ease wait times

By Jessica Reynolds Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — The emergency room at UHS Chenango Memorial Hospital in Norwich is less of a “waiting room” than ever before, thanks to a new system implemented in January.

Since then, the emergency room has been seeing 73 percent of its patients within 30 minutes, according to a recent press release from the hospital.

Improved workflow, a more comprehensive staffing schedule and expanded treatment areas are hallmarks of the new patient experience, according to the release.

“To ensure that our patients are seen as quickly and efficiently as possible, we have re-engineered our processes within the department,” said Peter Gordon, the hospital’s emergency services medical director.

Gordon said the hospital’s emergency services department set a goal in 2013 for 55 percent of the hospital’s patients to be seen by a provider within 30 minutes. With the help of the new system and hard work, Gordon said, that goal was reached and surpassed this year. This month, Gordon said, the average time it took for patients to be seen was 22 minutes.

Gordon said the new system has “been going great.” He said the volume of people seen in the emergency room has increased by 15 percent, with an overall decrease in length of patient stay.

“Throughout the year our staff has worked hard to hit the mark,” Gordon said, “eliminating bottlenecks and improving performance, processes, staffing and physical space to better serve our patients.”

Donna Faber, nurse manager of the emergency department, said the hospital has hired several new nurses and practitioners to speed up the process and shorten the length of patient stay. She said there are now three rooms that patients are rotated through to evaluate their problems and determine where in the hospital the patient could best be taken care of.

According to Gordon, the emergency room is now separated into, what the staff calls “ER South” and “ER North.” Gordon said patients with more pressing issues, such as bad chest pains, are sent to ER North, and patients with less-pressing issues are sent to ER South.

This system, Gordon said, is run during the emergency room’s peak hours, which he said are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. The system has helped patients get in an out of the emergency room faster and be treated more efficiently, Gordon said.

Gordon said the hospital has the right people and services to diagnose patients promptly and get them the care they need.

“Patients are happy to be seen so quickly,” Gordon said. “And we are still working to keep our patients at the center of our care, always looking for opportunities to serve them even better, more effectively and efficiently. Their time is valuable and we are committed to demonstrating that they can rely upon us.”

UHS Chenango Memorial Hospital is a member of UHS, a 915-bed hospital and health care system with more than 60 locations around New York’s Southern Tier.