Newly-remodeled ER is faster, more convenient.

Nobody likes to wait, especially if you or a family member is sick. That basic principle was the driving force behind a major renovation of the UnityPoint Health – Methodist Emergency Department. The recently-completed remodel adds more urgent care rooms to handle minor emergencies, reduces wait times and improves patient privacy. Along with other upgrades to the department, that makes the Methodist ER faster and more convenient for patients and their families, says Tony Howard, emergency department director.

“We designed the space and workflow so our patients get in faster so their treatment begins sooner,” Howard explains. “The new space also means greater privacy and safety.” A new front-door vestibule has been added, and there are now four dedicated “minor” emergency exam rooms for patients with less serious illnesses. This area has its own waiting room and a separate exit door. A true separation of minor emergency care from acute emergency patients has reduced congestion at the check-in area so patients can be registered and assessed more quickly, whether in the minor emergency area or a traditional acute care emergency. Another major benefit to patients with less serious conditions is cost. Since it costs less to provide service to those with minor emergencies, these savings are passed on to the patient by reduced charges for services.

Further, because the ER’s electronic medical records are linked with those at the hospital and UnityPoint Clinic locations throughout the area, physicians can quickly access a patient’s medical records to check medical history, medications, allergies and test results. The outcome is a coordinated approach that surrounds the patient with care, from the hospital to the physician office, and even in the home.

The design changes were implemented following an extensive research and evaluation procedure using lean principles. Lean is a powerful, proven method of improving business efficiency and effectiveness, used by many forms of businesses worldwide. Methodist ER physicians and staff participated in a lean kaizen event in which they analyzed current traffic flow, identified bottlenecks and causes, and recommended a renovation to result in better, faster service for ER patients.

Providing complete emergency services for major and minor illnesses and injuries, Methodist is an Illinois State Designated Trauma Center and Certified Stroke Center. In the event of a heart attack, an experienced cardiovascular team is prepared to open a blocked artery fast. “We recently took just 24 minutes from the time the patient arrived until we opened the clogged vessel,” says Howard. “The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services standard is 90 minutes. The faster you open the artery, the better for the patient.”

In addition, the Methodist Emergency Department is the only local emergency department with a dedicated area staffed by licensed clinicians who specialize in the treatment and assessment of behavioral issues. It’s also pediatric-certified, with specially-trained staff to care for children. “We’re the only area hospital to post our wait times online,” adds Howard. “At Methodist, we make it easy for you to get outstanding emergency care.” iBi