Hospital aims for shorter waits

The last phase of renovations designed to help shorten patient wait times in the emergency room at Schneck Medical Center will be completed by the end of the year.

Those upgrades include redesigning the layout of the emergency room to better accommodate the split-flow model the hospital and staff started following earlier this year.

The three-phase construction, paid for through a $125,000 donation by the Schneck Guild, began in October and will be finished by Jan. 1.

Cathy Wichman, director of emergency services, said the split-flow model, which is an evidence-based practice many hospitals use nationwide, is designed to offer patients quicker, more efficient care.

That’s because patients are seen upon arrival by a triage nurse, who gives an assessment, deciding what step should be taken next. The patient can either be sent to an area reserved for emergency cases or to one that’s designated for patients with less serious conditions.

“The model is designed to improve the process of the patients through the department,” Wichman said. “The change in construction will also help with that.”

Separating patients based on the severity of their sickness or injury can shorten wait time, which in turn increases patients’ satisfaction and keeps them from possibly leaving, Wichman said. i

For example, patients with minor problems, such as an earache or sprained ankle, are taken to an intake area and are seen more quickly by a health care professional to receive treatment.

Patients waiting for test results can stay in a designated area so they aren’t taking up rooms needed for trauma care, such as heart attack and stroke patients.

The hospital’s goal is to have those with less complex issues to be in and out within 90 minutes, if possible.

Split-flow also helps to manage the hospital’s continued emergency room growth.

The number of patients seen by the emergency department grew from 24,803 in 2008 to 30,164 in 2013.

With a 2 percent increase of patients in the emergency room since last year, Wichman said perfecting the split-flow is an important factor.

In addition, the model avoids keeping sick patients near each other for long periods of time because it works to keep the length of stay to a minimum.

Currently, Wichman said the average length of stay time in the emergency room is about two hours.

The last renovations, which are being made by Garmong Construction of Terre Haute, will redesign how the emergency room is set up to improve flow of patients.

Some of the changes include an added room for patients waiting for results and moving the traditional waiting time from the beginning of the visit to the end. There also will be two intake rooms, with another room nearby for the health care provider. An additional area for discharge will be available, too.

Throughout the construction, the emergency department has remained open, and Wichman said there have not been any problems with patient treatment.

“It has been top-notch so far as far as paying close attention to following policies and procedures,” Wichman said.

Patients

Number of patients seen in Schneck Medical Center Emergency Department

2013;30,164

2012;29,743

2011;27,610

2010;25,081

2009;25,656

2008;24,803