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Jefferson Memorial Hospital adds mobile care unit

December 31, 2007

RANSON, W.Va. - In an effort to decrease patient wait time in the emergency department, Jefferson Memorial Hospital recently added a mobile care unit outside the emergency department.

The unit, which is staffed by an emergency medicine trained nurse practitioner supported by additional nursing staff, adds four treatment rooms to the emergency department. Patients who come to the emergency department with less serious conditions are being treated in the new area.

"The goal is to get our patients treated more quickly and then released, which should ultimately improve patient satisfaction," said Tina Coad, executive consultant for emergency services. "After all, wait time in the emergency department is the number-one concern voiced by our patients and their family members."

With more than 22,000 patient visits per year, the emergency department staff at Jefferson Memorial Hospital has been working over the past several years to enhance efficiency in treating the growing number of patients that come through the emergency department each year.

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"Our ultimate goal with this recent service expansion is to get the visit time for our nonemergent patients down to 90 minutes," Coad stated.

The new mobile care unit is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. According to Denise Carter, emergency department nurse manager, when a patient comes to the emergency department, a nurse in the triage area performs an assessment using predetermined criteria. Based on the assessment, the patient is either sent to the mobile care unit or the core emergency department for treatment.

Carter describes the mobile care unit as fully functional, equipped with computers, a medication dispensing system and monitors to view digital X-rays. The staff is trained in emergency medicine and the emergency department physician is readily available to consult as needed.

Earlier this year, a Certificate of Need to expand and renovate the existing emergency department at Jefferson Memorial Hospital was approved by the West Virginia Health Care Authority. The $4.6 million project includes a 5,000-square-foot expansion of Jefferson Memorial's existing emergency department from eight to 19 beds, additional parking, renovations to the waiting rooms and the addition of a decontamination room.

According to Carter, construction on the expansion should begin in 2008. The new design will allow for growth in emergency department patient visits at Jefferson Memorial Hospital until a new hospital is built, she added.

"We are working very hard to do what is needed to enhance the delivery of care in our emergency department," said Dr. James Walker, medical director of emergency services at Jefferson Memorial Hospital.

"The structural changes that we have planned, along with the dynamic team of physicians and nurses that we have been able to recruit, are examples of this continuing commitment to our community," he added.

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