Schenectady County

Ellis making progress with ER

With the last of 17 new Emergency Department treatment rooms set to open Thursday, Ellis Hospital is

With the last of 17 new Emergency Department treatment rooms set to open Thursday, Ellis Hospital is reporting declines in patient wait times.

“We have improved wait times across the board,” said Ellis spokeswoman Donna Evans.

Complaints have declined as well, according to Claudia Hutton, spokeswoman for the state Department of Health. “We are pleased. We know they are working on it. We know they are improving and we know people are seeing the improvements,” she said.

Ellis spent $1.8 million to nearly double its treatment rooms, from 22 to 39, converting storage and former medical imaging space. It opened six treatment rooms in July, six in August and will open the remainder this week.

The hospital also added eight registered nurses to the emergency department staff as well as other support positions.

Evans said the hospital reduced wait times on average from 51⁄2 hours to 41⁄2 hours between June and September. The time represents when a person walks into the Emergency Department to the time the person is either discharged or admitted.

Ellis CEO James Connolly said the hospital reduced wait times by streamlining its triage and registration processes and by adding protocols to start laboratory and X-ray work immediately when the patient arrives in the Emergency Department. In this way, the physician should have results when he sees the patient, Connolly said.

“The nurses and doctors in the ED are really pumped and excited with the new approach to triage and staffing,” Connolly said.

Further, the hospital reduced the time it takes a patient to be admitted to a medical-surgical bed from the Emergency Department. This was accomplished in part by adding 70 additional beds since June at a cost another $1.8 million.

The new treatment rooms arrive just in time for the start of flu season, which runs October through April. Hospital emergency departments typically see more patients with upper respiratory problems during this time, Evans said.

Ellis began the crash building program when patients began to overwhelm its Emergency Department after St. Clare’s Hospital closed June 13. St. Clare’s surrendered its operating license and Ellis took over the former Catholic hospital’s assets at the time.

Hospital officials said people shifted to Ellis, thinking St. Clare’s had shut all of its services when in fact the Emergency Department remained open.

Ellis plans to convert St. Clare’s, now called the Ellis McClellan Campus, into a medical home to provide urgent medical care to people with little or no medical insurance. It also plans to build a new, consolidated Emergency Department on its campus, with the goal of opening it in 2012.

Ellis officials will outline these and other changes during a series of community meetings. The first is 7 p.m. today in Lecture Hall 101 at Schenectady County Community College.

Others are scheduled for:

* Friday at 12:30 p.m. in the McChesney Room, Schenectady County Public Library.

* Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. in the Fenimore Gallery in Proctors.

* Oct. 29 at 7 p.m. in Niskayuna Town Hall.

Categories: Schenectady County

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