06/23/2005

UHC to Make Emergency Department Changes Aimed at Improved Service

Beginning in July, United Hospital Center will increase the number of physicians and other health professionals in the E. Wayne Corrin Emergency Department as part of an overall plan aimed at providing better service. 

The reduction of patient waiting times and expanded hours for fast track services for minor medical problems are two of the major issues that will be addressed, according to UHC President Bruce Carter.

Carter said the hospital is opting to work within its own system, through a partnership with WVU, to provide physician and administrative services for the emergency department. “As a result of our West Virginia United Health System membership, we have an excellent opportunity with numerous benefits for the community,” he said. The alliance with WVU for this particular project moves UHC to the region’s forefront of emergency care in areas like advanced care for stroke and trauma as well as improved preparedness for mass casualties.

The change, which has been in the planning stages for approximately a year and was approved by UHC’s board in October 2004, includes a significant increase in the amount of funding for the department, Carter noted.

West Virginia University’s School of Medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine, has recruited 9 full time emergency medicine physicians – including a medical director, Chris Goode, M.D. -- and four emergency medicine physician assistants to staff the UHC Emergency Department, according to Ann Chinnis, MD, chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at WVU. Included in the group of recruits are three of UHC’s current ER physicians, Kevin Mace, Kyle McCammon, and Jonathan Newman, who will remain at the hospital.

Carter emphasized that as a result of the change, UHC would be able to “vastly increase the number of physician, physician extender and nursing coverage hours” in the emergency department.

Both Carter and Chinnis agree that the goal of the partnership between UHC and WVU is to improve the level of service and improve patient satisfaction in the UHC Emergency Department.

“It will be the responsibility of the medical director to develop a cohesive, stable and locally-based team of physicians, physician assistants, nurses and other experts to provide this care to UHC’s community,” Dr. Chinnis said.

The WVU providers will become members of the WVU faculty, but will be located full time at UHC and be integrated into the UHC medical staff.

UHC will continue to have only emergency medicine board certified physicians in its emergency department. Carter said that while the majority of hospitals in the U.S. do not have board certified emergency medicine trained physicians, UHC’s board and administration feels it is important to have this caliber of physicians to meet community needs.

 “UHC has great resources,” said Chinnis. “They have a strong and stable emergency department nursing staff and good hospital systems, including the laboratory and radiology services.” She also noted that UHC has a holding unit for patients awaiting a hospital bed and a commitment from top management to improving patient satisfaction.

WVU brings additional strengths which include experience in recruiting and retaining Emergency Medicine professionals, administrative experience in WVU Hospitals’ busy ED and Trauma Center, research-based knowledge of the most advanced emergency protocols, including advanced stroke care, pre-hospital treatment, and response to mass casualties, bioterrorism and other emerging threats.

Carter said UHC and WVU already have a long-established relationship involving the emergency department. For the past five years, residents from the WVU School of Medicine’s Emergency Medicine Residency Program have rotated through UHC’s Emergency Department as part of their training program. Beginning in July, a resident will be in the ED twelve hours each day.

“This program has graduated a number of physicians in practice here and elsewhere in the state,” said Chinnis.

- WVU -


05-126
For more information:
Contact: Suzanne Hornor, (304) 624-2912
casew@rcbhsc.wvu.edu
sh:06-22-05

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