Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A New Decade - Keep Those Resolutions Alive

New Years' has hit and the resolutions are in full force. The gyms are packed - even for the 5:30a crowd, the line for the soup and salad bar is longer than the burger line and people are still showing the post holiday spirit.

When I arrived at St. Joseph Medical Center in May, 2008, the hospital averaged around 80 hours per month of Emergency Room (ER) Diversion (not allowing patients to come to the hospital by ambulance - actually 'diverting' them to other hospitals). This trend carried through for over a year prior to this timeframe.

Our ER, like a healthy heart, is a major lifeline for our hospital. We made a resolution that we would reduce diversions and have been able to bring it down to 0 or just a few hours per month by the summer, 2008. Unfortunately, we started the New Year off with 12 hours of diversion in one day. This is our longest stretch in many, many months and matched our total diversion over the past 3 months combined. Certainly, this is not how we wanted the year to start in the ER. I am pleased to see that we were able to get off diversion and allow improved access to our hospital. We also learned some ways that we could improve our processes and communication. Whenever we are on diversion, we will have a leadership check-in at least every hour to understand what support is needed to get off diversion.

We get approximately 15-20 admissions per day through our ER. For every 16 admissions, we staff, across the hospital, approximately 2,000+ hours over the next 4 days (the average patient length of stay). On the flip side, we end up reducing around the same amount of hours over 4 days for every drop in census of sixteen.

By keeping our ER open, we improve access to care and better serve our community, our medical staff and associates.

I look forward to hearing from you and look forward to a prosperous and healthy 2010.

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