ER director: Wait times improving

Kathryn Eastburn, Staff Writer, Greenwood Commonwealth

Wait times for patients coming into Greenwood Leflore Hospital’s emergency room are getting much shorter, according to new ER director Michael Payne.

He discussed continued improvements in ER operations during a hospital board meeting Tuesday.

Payne, a registered nurse, said that three weeks into a re-designed system, the average wait time of patients to see a doctor has been drastically cut and no one is leaving the ER unseen.

Before the new system was in place, as many as 100 patients per month sometimes left the hospital before being seen or treated.
Under the guidance of Vizient, the Dallas-based consulting firm hired by the hospital to reduce costs and enhance revenues, staffing of the emergency room has shifted to two 12-hour shifts per day, enabling staff to be up and ready before patients arrive, rather than changing shifts at a time of day when patients are already waiting to be seen.

“The average time from arrival to getting a bed and seeing a doctor, on a busy day, was sometimes over two hours before,” Payne said.

That time has been cut now to having a doctor in the room, in most cases, in less than 15 minutes.

Payne noted that the emergency room also has moved a triage nurse up to the front desk to do visual surveys of waiting room patients in order to more efficiently assess who needs to be seen quickly.

Board Vice President Sammy Foster, who conducted the meeting in the absence of Brian Waldrop, the president, congratulated Payne, urging him to “keep up the good work.”

Foster said word of mouth in the community about improvements in the ER appeared to be getting around.