Recent changes at Statesboro’s East Georgia Regional Medical Center have led to better emergency care, according to hospital administrators.
Bob Bigley, Chief Executive Officer for East Georgia Regional, says new efficiencies implemented in the hospital’s emergency department make possible better patient flow and decreased wait times for patients.
The new efforts have allowed the department to dramatically reduce the average length of stay for patients in the emergency room, he said.
“When I came to (East Georgia Regional Medical Center) in 2005, we averaged approximately 80 to 85 patients a day in our emergency room (ER). Now, it is not unusual to have well over 130 to 150 each day,” Bigley said. “The number of patients being admitted to the hospital has grown significantly, as well. We recognized that we have had a need to increase patient care, and have constantly looked for opportunities improve the experience for patients and move them through the ER more quickly.”
To help admit patients sooner, administrators have focused on increasing the hospital’s capacity for holding patients.
In the last 12 months, the hospital hired new nurses in “both the emergency room and in the hospital, and added more open beds, which allows us to get patients out of the ER quicker,” Bigley said.
In total, more than 20 beds — seven staffed-beds in the critical units — have been opened, and several new staff brought in.
The addition of new equipment, a $600,000 investment in a cardiac monitor system, has also increased the number of available rooms at a given time.
“We didn’t have enough critical care beds with heart monitors available, and would often have to hold a patient in the ER until we had another available monitor,” Bigley said. “But, we now have 60 altogether.”
In the emergency room itself, visitors now have access to a patient self-check-in kiosk. The self-service machine uses a touch screen, and allows patients to input personal information and a reason for their visit, without waiting in-line for a nurse. When information is submitted, the triage nurse is alerted on a computer of the patient’s arrival, and will assess their condition.
Overall, the machine allows patients to speed-up the emergency room check-in process, staff says.
“Patients are excited about prompter service within our emergency department, and our staff already sees and appreciates how the kiosk streamlines the patient check-in process,” said Stephanie McMillan, RN, East Georgia Regional’s Emergency Department Director. “Not only does the kiosk save time for our patients, it is a highly efficient system that protects their confidential patient information.”
Though, patients can still be checked in by an admissions representative if they prefer, she said.
The string of changes has created a “noticeable difference” in how effectively ER patients are treated at the hospital, Bigley said.
According to Alan Scott, M.D., East Georgia’s Medical Director of the Emergency Department, “The additional resources added to our ER have improved our processes tremendously. Our decreased wait times, as well as our increasing satisfaction scores, are key indicators that we utilize to assess our performance.”
Jeff Harrison may be reached at (912) 489-9454.