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CEO Update: A best-in-class experience in the Emergency Department

Providing the best experience for our patients and communities is part of Citizens Memorial’s strategic plan. One of our approaches for improved service is a best-in-class experience in the Emergency Department.

About 18,000-20,000 patients visit the CMH ED annually. For many of them, it is their first visit to CMH. We want that experience not to be just good but to be the very best it can be. We want our patients to recommend our emergency department to their friends and family.

What have we done to enhance the experience? We started with strategic decisions to:

  • Develop an Emergency Department leadership and physician team within the CMH family.
  • Reduce our “left without being seen” percentage to below the national norm of 1.5%.

And the results are in:

  • On the road to a best-in-class patient experience.
  • A growing reputation.

Medical Director Keith Butvilas, M.D., and ED charge nurse Denise Silva, RN, explain the changes in the CEO Update video. Learn more by watching the video or continuing to read this blog post.

ED leadership team and physician staffing

Historically, we contracted with a physician staffing group for our Emergency Department. Last year, we ended that contract and started hiring physicians directly. Physicians involved in our local communities have an investment and ownership in all we do at CMH.

Dr. Butvilas joined our team in December 2022 as the Emergency Department’s medical director to lead the transformation. We have an all-hands-on-deck approach. It starts with the Emergency Department staff members. We also depend on our lab team for patient results. Our radiology team takes images accurately and promptly. It takes all of us to accomplish our goals.

Improved patient experience

Using a direct triage process, we have created a waiting room with little to no wait time. Patients are quickly seen by a triage nurse and placed in a treatment room. Our goal is for patients to see a clinical provider within the first 20 minutes of arrival.

Additionally, fewer patients are leaving without being seen in our ED. In 2022, we averaged about 7% of patients leaving without being seen by a provider. They would see a triage nurse but leave while waiting for a bed in a treatment room. The national benchmark for best-in-class is a rate of 1.5% or lower, which was our target goal. We are beating that goal here at CMH and continue to trend well below the national benchmark. On most days, we have no patients leave without being seen.

Improved reputation

Word is spreading that CMH provides rapid care in the emergency room, and patients are coming from further away. Patients know we will treat them faster here than going elsewhere. They also are more likely to recommend our Emergency Department to their friends and family.

The Emergency Department has the same capabilities to care for patients as larger facilities. Our ED is a Level III Trauma Center, Level III Stroke Center and Level II STEMI Center. We also have sub-specialists we can consult as needed. We have all the advanced imaging techniques, including CT, MRI, ultrasound, X-ray and laboratory data. We can evaluate any given complaint. We provide the care right here in our community, keeping the patients in our community. They don’t have to travel greater distances.

What’s next?

One of the limitations of our ED is our physical capacity. We don’t have enough rooms for the number of patients we see now and will see in the future. We recently refreshed the rooms in our ED to get us through until we complete our hospital expansion.

A key factor in moving forward with our hospital expansion was the need for more space in our Emergency Department. The increased capacity will complement the great work our staff are already doing.

Michael Calhoun shares the latest happenings at CMH in his monthly CEO Updates. He is the CEO/executive director of CMH and the Citizens Memorial Health Care Foundation.

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