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Changes implemented to Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital emergency department

Emphasis is on driving discharge length of stay, improving registration process

Todd Braswell, director of the emergency center at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, gives an overview to the hospital’s board of directors on changes being made in the emergency department. Among the things the staff is working on, he said, is decreasing discharge length of stay. (Staff Photo: Jennifer Parks)

Todd Braswell, director of the emergency center at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, gives an overview to the hospital’s board of directors on changes being made in the emergency department. Among the things the staff is working on, he said, is decreasing discharge length of stay. (Staff Photo: Jennifer Parks)

ALBANY — Officials say recent changes that have been instituted at the emergency department at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital appear to be working.

Todd Braswell, director of the emergency center at Phoebe, said “lean methodologies” have been implemented as a way to make procedural changes when it comes to getting patients in and out of that part of the hospital — which is often the first department patients experience. Efforts have been made to drive down length of stay by modifying things such as how patients are registered, tested, triaged and treated, he said.

In so doing, emergency center staff has a goal of getting patients in and out within 160 minutes, a benchmark Braswell said has been beaten for 10 days running.

“As we started using lean principles, there has not been as much up and down (in the discharge times),” he said. ” … We are absolutely knocking it (the times) out, and we will continue to knock it out.

“We will be a top 10 percent ER, and a benchmark.”

In a presentation to the hospital’s board of directors on Wednesday, Braswell noted there were a set of initiatives set forth in the emergency center from July to October. The first step was to find ways to decrease the length of stay. This was followed by making changes to the registration process to reduce the number of patients leaving without being registered, a plan to increase Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems scores and focusing on the utilization of the results waiting area.

The emergency center staff at Phoebe says there has been cooperation on all levels of the process. If nothing else, it has made things easier for the center’s night shift in terms of hand off and patient satisfaction — in part due to a reduction in the number of people sitting in the waiting room.

“(The staff is) starting to feel the difference,” Braswell said. ” … We are not out of the woods yet. We’ve still got to be prepared for 200-plus patient days.”

Figures presented by Braswell shows there have been increases in volume. A chart he presented Wednesday shows there was a volume of 4,624 patients in August 2011, a figure that was at 5,649 last month. While there have been peaks and drops in discharge length of stay within that time frame, the trend shows an overall decline with an average of 190 minutes in August 2011 and an average of 175 minutes for October.

From June 3 through Sunday, the average discharge length of stay has gone from 165 minutes to just under 150 minutes. It was at its highest at 190 minutes during the last week of June, the data presented Wednesday shows.

Following a closed session lasting roughly 80 minutes, the board reconvened into open session and approved the credentialing report that had been reviewed by the Phoebe Professional Affairs Committee meeting on Oct. 28.