Nav­i­cent Health’s emer­gency room wait time could get shorter

The Telegraph (Macon) - - Front Page - BY SA­MAN­THA MAX smax@ma­con.com

Next time you visit Nav­i­cent Health’s emer­gency room, you might face a shorter wait time.

The hos­pi­tal opened a new mo­bile emer­gency unit on Pine Street Thurs­day morn­ing to keep up with in­creas­ing vol­ume in re­cent months.

“We had such a large in­flux of vol­ume over the last few months,” said Dr. John Wood, med­i­cal di­rec­tor of the Emer­gency Cen­ter at The Med­i­cal Cen­ter, Nav­i­cent Health. “We re­ally needed to be able to ex­pand rapidly to be able to ac­com­mo­date those pa­tients and ac­com­mo­date them timely.”

Wait­ing times vary from day to day, Woods said, often with an uptick on Mon­days. But pa­tients wait an av­er­age of 42 min­utes to be seen by a doc­tor, ac­cord­ing to ProPublica’s ER Wait Watcher tool. The Ge­or­gia av­er­age is 31 min­utes, and the na­tional av­er­age is 27 min­utes.

With the height of flu sea­son

around the cor­ner, Woods said, the hos­pi­tal de­cided to rent the mo­bile hos­pi­tal unit to get ahead of the com­ing rush.

The 1,000-square-foot mo­bile hos­pi­tal unit con­tains 14 treat­ment sta­tions, in­clud­ing a pri­vate space in the back with room for two op­er­at­ing beds. It’s equipped with X-ray and ul­tra­sound ma­chines, ven­ti­la­tors, med­i­ca­tions and all other re­sources avail­able in the main emer­gency room.

“Every­thing that you could get in­side [the hos­pi­tal], you can get in here,” Wood said.

The mo­bile emer­gency room opened for ser­vice Thurs­day at 8 a.m. and will op­er­ate 24 hours a day. Pa­tients must first present to the main emer­gency depart­ment at 770 Pine Street and will then be trans­ported by ve­hi­cle to the mo­bile unit across the street as needed.

The mo­bile hos­pi­tal, called the Caroli­nas MED-1, is owned by Atrium Health, a health care sys­tem based in Char­lotte, North Carolina. Nav­i­cent Health CEO Ninfa San­ders said the rental was not re­lated to the health care sys­tems’ plans to merge. The two par­ties have not fi­nal­ized their agree­ment yet.

“This is not be­cause we are al­ready to­gether,” Saun­ders said. “Atrium Health would do this for any com­mu­nity that has a need. We just hap­pened to be able to ask them first.”

Atrium Health has de­ployed its Caroli­nas MED-1 unit at hos­pi­tals across the coun­try, often fol­low­ing nat­u­ral dis­as­ters, such as Hur­ri­cane Florence. Grady Memo­rial Hos­pi­tal in At­lanta rented the mo­bile hos­pi­tal last flu sea­son to help with over­flow, as well.

Nav­i­cent Health will

THE MO­BILE HOS­PI­TAL IS OWNED BY ATRIUM HEALTH, A HEALTH CARE SYS­TEM BASED IN CHAR­LOTTE.

reeval­u­ate the need for the unit ev­ery 30 days, and Woods said he ex­pects it to stay for two to three months. In the mean­time, the city block of New Street be­tween Pine Street and Plum Street Lane will be closed to traf­fic.

Sa­man­tha Max is a Re­port for Amer­ica corps mem­ber and re­ports for The Tele­graph with sup­port from the News/CoLab at Ari­zona State Univer­sity. Fol­low her on Face­book at face­book.com/smax1996 and on Twit­ter @saman­thael­li­max. Learn more about Re­port for Amer­ica at www.re­port­foramer­ica.org.

BEAU CA­BELL bca­bell@ma­con.com

Nav­i­cent Health’s med­i­cal di­rec­tor of the emer­gency cen­ter Dr. JohnWood, right, shows off a 12-bed mo­bile emer­gency cen­ter com­plete with two op­er­at­ing ar­eas parked in front of the hos­pi­tal on New Street. With tents at­tached, the fa­cil­ity can be packed and taken al­most any­where.

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