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McLeod Loris Seacoast Improves ER Wait Times and Processes

(2/08/13) - McLeod Loris Seacoast is continuously taking extra strides to evaluate and improve the service provided to patients. While improved patient satisfaction scores indicate the needs of our patients and their families are being met, we are continuing to focus on improved patient satisfaction by implementing significant changes in the process we use to treat patients in the emergency department.

“A large percentage of our admissions come to our hospitals through the emergency department,” said Dick Tinsley, Administrator of McLeod Loris Seacoast. “This is their first impression of our efficiency, quality, and service. The first impression is always the most lasting so we have mapped our emergency department flow process, and identified areas where we can improve. We are addressing ways to improve the registration process by decreasing wait times and taking steps that will get the patients into a room and seen by a physician as quickly as possible.”

The process is simple: When a patient comes to the emergency department to see a doctor, they will sign in and get an arm band. If there is a patient room available, they will go directly to the patient bed where they will be visited by a nurse and a registration clerk.

If there is no bed available, patients will be assessed and if needed, testing will begin immediately. Patients may then be asked to wait in the emergency room lobby until a bed becomes available. However, all care is based on acuity. More acute patients will be seen first.

“Patients come to the emergency department to see the doctor,” said Shannon Godwin, Director of the Emergency Department for McLeod Loris Seacoast. “We are doing everything we can to determine the most efficient and safest way to get you to see the doctor. We can often begin your assessment in the waiting room. This will decrease your wait time and allow the doctor to be able to treat you faster with testing already completed.”

Efforts to improve our Emergency Department processes at McLeod Loris have also identified the days and times of the week that we see the most patients. Between the hours of 11:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m., on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, a nurse practitioner will be available in the emergency department at McLeod Loris to see less acute patients. This will aid in decreasing patient wait times and allow for faster visits, so every patient can be seen as quickly as possible. Having the nurse practitioner present allows the doctor the opportunity to focus on the more acute patients.

In an extra effort to decrease wait times, the registration and nursing staff are also now equipped with radio earpieces that allow them to communicate in “real time” as patients come into the emergency department. Improving communication between the registration personnel and the nursing staff will expedite the patient care process.

“We evaluate every day. We identify inefficiencies and create ways to provide a more efficient, safer experience while working to decrease wait times and increase patient satisfaction,” said Renee Kennedy, RN, Process Manager with the Operational Effectiveness Department. The goal of McLeod Loris Seacoast is continuous evaluation and improvement by identifying and eliminating waste and searching for ways to always improve our processes and continue to provide excellent, quality health care.

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