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Group targets ER wait times

Same company working to improve wait times in Urbana is operating Springfield ER.

Mercy Memorial Hospital officials believe a new physician’s group treating patients will lead to shorter waiting times and better interactions for the 18,000 people who visit the Urbana ER each year.

Increasingly, hospitals nationwide are monitoring those factors as a way to reduce costs, improve efficiency and ensure patients have a positive experience, said Bryan Bucklew, president of the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association.

“It’s a big issue in the Dayton and Springfield area,” Bucklew said.

Emergency Medical Physicians, based in Canton, began serving patients at Mercy Memorial Hospital late last month. The hospital’s previous agreement with ECI Healthcare Partners, based in Michigan, expired, said Karen Gorby, Mercy Memorial administrator.

In May, EMP also began serving patients at Springfield Regional Medical Center, where wait times have been a problem. Both Mercy Memorial and Springfield Regional are affiliated with Community Mercy Health Partners, a regional healthcare system that serves Clark and Champaign counties.

Mercy Memorial already has good patient satisfaction scores and turnover times, Gorby said, but she is confident the new ER group will be able to maintain and even improve on those scores.

“EMP has demonstrated high physician-patient satisfaction and good turnover times,” Gorby said. “We have those at Mercy Memorial in Urbana, but we wanted to make sure we could maintain those and even improve our very good turnover times.”

At Springfield Regional, the group is working to reduce ER wait times by staffing a physician at triage during peak hours, said Travis Ulmer, medical director at Springfield Regional and director of marketing and recruiting for EMP. Doing so will ideally help prioritize cases and initiate orders for how to treat each patient more quickly, Ulmer said.

Hospital Care, a government website that tracks quality of care at more than 4,000 hospitals across the U.S., shows patients at Mercy Memorial typically spend less time in the emergency room before being admitted than the state average. Patients spend about 182 minutes before being admitted as an inpatient in Urbana, compared to a state average of 267 minutes and a national average of 274 minutes. Springfield Regional was slower than the state and national averages, at 312 minutes, according to the web site.

Once admitted, Mercy Memorial patients also typically spend less time before they are sent to their inpatient room. Patients there spend about 42 minutes waiting to go to their room, compared to a statewide average of 87 minutes and a national average of 96 minutes, according to the website. That figure was 102 minutes at Springfield Regional, according to the website.

“Increasingly, hospitals across the U.S. are moving away from a fee for service model and focusing more on patient satisfaction and how well patients recover,” Bucklew said. “There’s been a big emphasis here regionally on that.”

With the change to EMP, a physician with local ties will take over management of the ER. Joan Kolodzik was named interim medical director for Mercy Memorial’s emergency department. Kolodzik is the director for clinical education for EMP and was a staff physician at Mercy Hospital Anderson. She also serves as an assistant clinical professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine.

“I’ve had the privilege of meeting many people from Champaign County over the past 15 years, and I know they care deeply for their community,” Kolodzik said in a press release announcing the new agreement. “I believe they deserve great emergency department services.”

EMP was founded in 1992 and employs about 700 physicians, Ulmer said.

The company has locations in 14 states and operates about 60 sites across the U.S.

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