Emergency room visits are by no means rare locally.
Just consider the numbers at Wyoming County Community Hospital. About 13,000 people arrived last year with everything from minor cuts, to heart attacks and serious accident injuries.
That’s why the hospital’s now offering ER Express. The new service makes visits quicker and more convenient for less-serious cases.
“Our census has been increasing over the past 18 months to two years,” said Elizabeth Gray, the facility’s Emergency Department director. “We wanted to offer the public an opportunity to have non-life threatening injuries cared for in a different area, more efficiently and quickly. So basically we’re meeting the public where its needs are.”
ER Express debuted Sept. 1. It’s located in a quiet examining area that’s part of the hospital’s larger Emergency Department complex, near its main entrance.
Hospital staff can address less-serious issues — such as a high-school athletic injury or a household cut which needs stitches — while the main Emergency Department handles the truly life-threatening.
Patients are still triaged the same as they’ve always been, Gray said. But the Express option allows people to be in-and-out within 90 minutes, if their issue doesn’t require more-intensive care.
“What we found was we had a need for this type of environment,” Gray said. “The public trusts us, and they trust this facility with their care, and it shows by our increasing census. So basically to thank them for their support and the census growth, we … provided this extra service, and added a second provider to the Emergency Department. We would not be able to do that without them.”
“It’s a dedicated provider for taking care of what we term as lower acuity,” said Physician’s Assistant Nick Parkot. “Like cuts needing stitches, or lacerations, abscesses, extremity injuries, or sports-related things. Upper respiratory infections, urinary tract infections … The most life-threatening people need to be seen first, but that doesn’t mean the people with lower-acuity problems should have to wait.”
And if a person’s condition proves more-serious, they have immediate access to the rest of the Emergency Department, such as radiology and laboratory services, said Attending Physician Dr. Gregory Collins.
ER Express likewise has 24-hour communications access with the hospital’s orthopedic staff.
In the meantime, the Emergency Department can handle more-pressing emergencies, which aren’t always apparent to those awaiting treatment.
“Especially if people are in the waiting room, you’ll see somebody come in after you, or sometimes two or three people will come in, and they’ll wind up going in before you, because what they have is potentially much more life-threatening,” Parkot said. “But also from the waiting room you don’t always see the ambulances coming in, and sometimes they pile in for or five at a time. So in order to meet that need, that’s why we’re doing this.”
Services such as ER Express have traditionally been offered in larger, urban hospitals. They aren’t seen as often in rural communities.
Patients have been very positive about the new service, Collins said. ER Express is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily and weekends.
“It’s a model that’s proven itself over and over again in their communities,” Collins said. “We’re very excited to have the opportunity here.”