Weirton Medical Center Cuts ER Waiting Time
Emergency physicians at Weirton Medical Center are now waiting to see patients - a reversal of the typical hospital emergency room scenario. Thanks to a new triage system called PhysicianFirst, patients are seen by a physician as soon as they walk in Weirton Medical Center’s emergency room. The result is faster treatment and less time in the waiting room for patients.
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PhysicianFirst was developed by EMP, a company that provides emergency physicians to Weirton Medical Center. An emergency department liaison greets each patient, does an on-the-spot assessment of the patient’s medical condition, and escorts the patient to a waiting physician. The physician conducts a more detailed assessment, orders necessary tests and the patient is escorted to an exam room – all within minutes and without the longer waits that are typical of a hospital emergency department.
In the event of serious trauma, heart attack, stroke or other life-threatening condition, patients are taken immediately to an exam room where they are triaged by the emergency physician.
“With nearly 40,000 visits a year, the Weirton Medical Center’s emergency department is one of the region’s busiest. Under the old triage system, that patient volume inevitably created longer waiting times. The new PhysicianFirst system has reduced our patients’ waiting time,” said Joseph P. Endrich, M.D., president and chief executive officer of Weirton Medical Center.
Mitchell Fuscardo, D.O., the emergency department medical director, agrees that PhysicianFirst has cut patient waiting times.
“This new system practically eliminates waiting time for patients,” Dr. Fuscardo said. “For a relatively minor emergency, a patient often can be seen and treated in less time than in a physician’s office. The result is more satisfied patients,” he explained.
Minor emergencies are seen in Weirton Medical Center’s FasTrack section of the emergency department, while more serious cases are treated in the main section of the emergency department. FasTrack is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
“We prioritize life-threatening cases ahead of less serious cases, but there is still less waiting time overall for the average patient,” Dr. Fuscardo said.
“The emergency nurses are the patients’ primary contacts and they bear the brunt of the anxiety of the patients and their families,” said Mary Vandine, R.N., the emergency department nursing director. “Waiting is particularly difficult for patients who are in pain or distress. The new PhysicianFirst system has eliminated much of the stress for those patients who can be seen and treated quickly,” she said.