Nurse First a success

July 12, 1997


Staff Writer

When you're sick, you want medical help - not someone asking to see your insurance card.

Starting last month, everyone who shows up at the emergency room of Washington County Hospital now sees a nurse first, according to Mary Ellen South, a hospital spokesman.

"This serves patients more quickly,'' South said. "And it puts care first and information second.''

South pointed out that waiting to be seen by medical personnel should be cut drastically with this speeded-up approach, designated Nurse First.

She added that critically hurt or seriously ill patients will always be treated first regardless of time or manner of arrival.


And on some days like last Wednesday, the emergency room staff had to deal with more than eight accidents victims from several different wrecks within a span of a few hours.

When that happens, delays will occur, South said.

But on a typical day, those entering the emergency room for treatment will be immediately ushered into a treatment area and assessed by a nurse.

This will eliminate fumbling for insurance cards, South said. That will all be done with bedside registration.

The next step will be the taking of the patient's medical history and an examination to determine how severe the emergency is, South said.

Then comes the doctor who will further examine and order tests if necessary, such as X-rays and blood studies.

If the illness or injury is serious, the patient will be admitted to the hospital for further care, South said.

Expresscare, which operates between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m., will still be in effect for people who come to the emergency room with minor injuries or illnesses, South said.

The reasons for the changes include providing better service to those who use the emergency room and also to streamline a very busy system at Washington County Hospital.

That busyness is because the Washington County Hospital's emergency room is the Region II trauma center for the western section of the county. As such, more than 50,000 emergency room visits are recorded each year.

Nurse First is also designed to cut down on the number of people in the treatment area of the emergency room - visitors and others who get in the way of doctors, nurses and equipment.

"Our goal is to serve the patient and his or her family in the most professional manner and that means seeing a nurse first, and handling paperwork later,'' said Sue Thompson, the emergency room nurse manager.

Thompson said the feedback from patients since Nurse First was begun in June has been very positive.

"It's working well,'' she said.

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