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St. Francis Makes Unprecedented Move in Emergency Care in Virginia

Hospital Pledges Patients Will Receive Care in 30 Minutes or Less

Richmond, Va. (February 28, 2006) Emergency patients at Bon Secours St. Francis Medical Center can count on being seen by a physician or have their treatment started in 30 minutes or less. The only hospital in Virginia to make such a pledge, St. Francis has committed to the short wait time for anyone who walks through the Emergency Department doors or is brought in by Emergency Medical Services (EMS).

“We have made a commitment to the community that patients will be seen within a certain amount of time and we intend to keep that promise,” said Terrie Edwards, executive vice president and administrator for St. Francis. “Our care is excellent and we want the community to know it also will be as efficient as possible.”

The effort, beginning March 1, is possible because of a hospital-wide commitment led by Bon Secours administrators and emergency medical staff.

“We have an excellent emergency team in place, but our success is based on a commitment from all departments at St. Francis,” said Robert Weisberger, M.D., medical director of the emergency department at St. Francis. “Without commitments from radiology, our laboratory, inpatient nursing units, case management and others, this would not be possible.”

Also contributing to the emergency department’s ability to make the 30-minute commitment is state-of-the-art equipment, a computer documentation system that monitors wait times and cohesive relationships between emergency and all hospital departments.

“As clinicians, we want patients to know that their needs will be met as quickly as possible, said Dr. Weisberger. “Ultimately our patients will be happier and the emergency team will be able to care for more patients. Quality care at St. Francis means caring for patients with compassion and a respect for their needs in an efficient manner.”

The new policy is designed to build on the success that the emergency department has already seen. In a recent survey 95 percent of patients were pleased with the overall quality of the care they received at St. Francis. All the more reason, said Edwards, to make a public commitment to efficiency as well as excellence. On average emergency patients at St. Francis are seen in 13 minutes.

“This commitment to efficiency and patient satisfaction has been a part of St. Francis’ plan from the beginning,” said Dr. Weisberger. “Since the hospital opened we have been seeing patients in less than 30 minutes on a consistent basis. That’s a testament that the system we have in place is working.”

So committed to the 30-minute wait time is St. Francis that it will offer an apology and a set of movie tickets to patients if the commitment is not met.

“We want patients to know that we appreciate and value their time, particularly in an emergency situation,” said Edwards. “It’s a small token, but we want patients to know that they are a priority when they walk through the doors at St. Francis.”

The policy is not in effect if there are: local or regional disasters; multiple critical care patients in the emergency room; if the hospital is 100 percent full or if St. Francis or other local hospitals are on diversion.

“For these types of situations, it will be necessary to alter our policy,” said Edwards. “Thankfully, most of these circumstances are not an everyday occurrence.”

The St. Francis Emergency Department has state-of-the-art technology, including digital cardiac monitoring equipment, digital radiology equipment, the only 64-slice CT scanner in Central Virginia and electronic medical records.

The Emergency Department team cares for both adult and pediatric patients, with physicians, nurses and physician assistants or nurse practitioners on duty 24-hours-a-day. Other services at St. Francis include women’s services, surgery, orthopaedics, radiology and more.

St. Francis Medical Center is part of the Bon Secours Richmond Health System, a not-for-profit Catholic health system.

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