Florida Emergency Room Takes the 'Fast Track'

Florida Emergency Room Takes the 'Fast Track'

News Feb 02, 2013

The result of a full year of observing and note taking was unveiled Thursday night at Florida Hospital Zephyrhills.

The facility's new "Fast Track" area is meant to divide the hospital's emergency department patients: Those treated for life-threatening conditions and those treated for serious but non-life-threatening issues. People who are suffering from a life-threatening conditions will be taken into the main emergency facility. If not, they'll be placed in the Fast Track area and treated.

The plan is meant to assess and treat patients more quickly.

"We've kind of cut down wait times ... by really dividing up the population that comes in," said Michelle Oswald-Bianchet, spokeswoman for the hospital. "If you're a person that comes in with a critical condition, you're going to take Course A and if you're a person who comes in with something serious, but not life-threatening, you're going to go down Course B.

"That way we're able to treat everybody quickly without a heart attack getting behind somebody who may be not as critically injured. That way it cuts down on the wait time for everybody."

Oswald-Bianchet estimates Florida Hospital Zephyrhills received about 2,800 patients each month to its emergency department.

The new facility, referred to as an "Emergency Department," allows a patient to come in and immediately go to a triage desk, which is now near the front. At that station a patient is registered and assessed on the spot.

A patient will be taken into one of the triage rooms where blood pressure and vital signs are documented. At that point a person will either go immediately to the main emergency room, depending on their symptoms and vital signs, or go to the Fast Track portion, an area with four, separate rooms to give privacy.

A medical assistant or physician will then determine if any further tests or lab work must be done. If needed, those tests will be performed and a patient will go into a new results waiting lounge fitted with larger, more comfortable seats that recline, a television and a children's play area.

Patients will either be given a prescription or further care.

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The new configuration of the Fast Track area has added certain nuances to the facility.

The triage desk is now in a position where patients can be seen either getting out of their car or from an ambulance. Healthcare providers can determine if that person needs assistance getting inside or not.

There is also a covered walkway. Patients can be dropped off while protected from the elements.

Those changes seem minor, but Oswald-Bianchet said 85 percent of her hospital's patients are admitted through emergency services, so this should provide an immediate, positive first impression.

"I feel, and all of us do, having a good ED (emergency department) experience is that first good impression for that patient and their families," Oswald-Bianchet said. "I think it's going to have a huge impact that we have made a lot of improvements down there.

"If you don't have to be admitted and you only have to go through Fast Track, then you're still going to have a much faster, more pleasant experience of not waiting as much and having kind of a clear path out of the building."

Ground was broken on the project in November. Most of the $350,000 project was complete by the beginning of January.

Complicating the transition, the emergency department remained open to incoming patients.

"It was hours and hours of observation that went into reformulating what happens in the ER," Oswald-Bianchet said. "We do that actually all over the hospital, but there was a big concentration on the ER last year just because we recognize that the ER is where about 85 percent of our patients come from. That's really our first impression and we need to make sure we get that right and fast and make it efficient for people."

Copyright 2013 - Tampa Tribune, Fla.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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Tampa Tribune, Fla.
Eddie Daniels
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