Memorial Hospital, Los Banos, has changed the way it sees emergency room patients in an effort to separate those in need of immediate care and those using the facility in place of a general practitioner.
In April, the hospital introduced the Rapid Medical Evaluation system. A Patient enters the emergency room and sees a doctor and a nurse for an evaluation. After a quick interview, the patient is put into one of two categories in need of immediate attention or sick but can be treated without taking up an emergency room bed.
Dr. Joseph Chiang, medical director at Memorial Hospital, Los Banos, said the evaluation system has been in use for five to seven years in many hospitals throughout the country. He said it is not only a benefit to those who are extremely ill, but it helps the other emergency room patients as well.
"Instead of waiting longer, things will be ordered right away," Chiang said.
Jennifer Nunes, the hospital's emergency room director, said the second person in the room is there to order whatever the doctor deems necessary.
"They can order tests, radiology, or maybe all you need is an antibiotic," she said.
A patient's information is also collected faster through the Rapid Medical Evaluation system, Chiang said.
Memorial Hospital, Los Banos, has a nine-bed emergency department with more than 25,000 visits made to the emergency room each year, Nunes said.
"Before, you'd come in, they'd sign you in and you'd wait, maybe a couple hours," Nunes said.
"We're trying to bypass that initial wait time."
Chiang said, so far, patients seem to like the new system.
"Anecdotally, they say they want to see the doctor, not sit around and wait. They want to get their questions answered, so it's a win-win for both the patients and the staff," Chiang said.