New Hospital Emergency Department extends Emory's community outreach
For several years, the Emory health care system has been reaching out to
metro Atlanta and making its services more accessible to a much broader
population than in previous years. New primary care centers of The Emory
Clinic as far away as north Fulton and Fayette counties have been perhaps
the most visible signs of that outreach effort.
Last summer, Emory took yet another step forward in broadening community
access to its medical services with the opening of Emory Hospital's new
Emergency Department. Alan Otsuki, former director of Emergency Medicine
at the Hospital, oversaw the year-long conversion of the Hospital Treatment
Room into a full-fledged Emergency Department, a process that included a
$750,000 renovation of a 6,660-square-foot space. Otsuki said the decision
to convert the Treatment Room into an Emergency Department was made to enhance
Emory's service to the community, and to provide greater access to the Emory
Doug Lowery, the newly appointed director of the Emergency Department, said
that access became available on July 1, when the department opened and began
providing the services of an attending emergency physician 24 hours a day,
seven days a week. Previously, the Treatment Room had offered attending
physician coverage 16 hours a day. The 14-bed facility includes two major
critical care rooms, an orthopaedics room, triage, radiology reading, an
admissions area and a waiting room.
The conversion also means that ambulance service providers now know in advance
that their patients may be taken to Emory for any type of emergency care.
Previously, ambulance services would deliver patients to Emory only if the
patient specifically asked.
The fact that Emory Hospital has opened an Emergency Department during a
time when such departments are being scaled back nationally, Lowery said,
is a reflection of the high community and regional demand for Emory's health
care services. "We are prepared to see whatever volume of patients
the Emory University System of Health Care (EUSHC) wants us to see,"
Lowery said. "I think EUSHC is gearing us up to be able to do that.
I think they want us to continue growing to meet the increasing demand for
emergency medical care."
The demand Lowery referred to has been steadily increasing at Emory for
the past several years. Current patient volume in the Emergency Department
is 10 percent higher than last year's Treatment Room numbers. The department
currently sees an average of 45-50 emergency patients per day.
Becky Bosselman, the Emergency Department's director of emergency nursing
services, said that being able to meet that demand took some shifting of
nursing and other personnel. "We haven't increased the number of staff
we had before as much as we have adjusted their shifts for the busiest emergency
care hours," said Bosselman. "Also there were procedures that
were done in the Treatment Room, such as blood transfusions, that had to
shift to other places, because as an Emergency Department we just can't
handle scheduled patients."
Bosselman also said that even though the total number of nursing staff hasn't
been increased, the department has increased the proportion of emergency
and critical care nurses experienced in emergency nursing. She also said
the department is now requiring Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) certification
of Emergency Department nurses.
Having staff with that type of experience is crucial for any emergency department,
but it is especially important at Emory Hospital, where the average patient
is more seriously ill than at other facilities and is generally in need
of more specialized medical services. In addition to traditional emergency
conditions such as broken bones, Emory Hospital does "specialized diagnostic
procedures that other Emergency Departments don't, because we do so much
specialty care here," Lowery said. "We need to be able to take
care of both those types of Emergency Department patients."
Approximately 26 percent of Emory's Emergency Department patients are admitted
to the Hospital, and approximately 16 percent of all Hospital patients come
through the Emergency Department, according to Bosselman.
Bosselman believes the Emergency Department will be an especially important
resource for Emory students in light of a recent restructuring of the University
Health Service that eliminated 24-hour medical care for students. She also
believes the department will be an invaluable and convenient resource for
faculty and staff who need emergency care. "I want the University community
to know that we are an Emergency Department that is fully available to them,"
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