January 16, 2014

Hospital ER works on staffing

Three physicians expected to start in next two months.

by Mitchell Kirk Pharos-Tribune

---- — The emergency room at Logansport Memorial Hospital is on its way to being staffed, the president and CEO says, while busy days continue to extend wait times and frustrate patients.

The hospital recently signed an agreement with Terre Haute-based Advocating Health ER LLC to staff its emergency room.

David Ameen, president and CEO of the hospital, said the emergency room needs four full-time and two part-time physicians. So far three have been hired, but won’t start for another couple of months, Ameen said, as they have to give notice where they are currently working.

The emergency room won’t staff nurse practitioners, but will have scribes, Ameen continued. Those employees will carry out the necessary documentation during patient visits, allowing physicians to spend more time with patients.

As for now, the patients at the ER are being treated by Dr. Kayur Patel, chief medical officer for Advocating Health ER, along with doctors with groups the company is contracted with. Ameen said the company has purchased a house in Logansport where physicians stay when they are not working.

Michael Glendenning, a Logansport resident, thinks there needs to be more than one physician available in the ER at a time. He was there Jan. 9 with a neighbor — a woman in her 70s — who had fallen and injured her wrist, knee and face.

He said when they arrived at the Logansport Memorial Hospital ER at about 2:30 p.m., it was packed with patients. One of them appeared to be suffering from frostbite while another looked like he had separated his shoulder, Glendenning said.

It wasn’t until about two hours later that his neighbor was sent to get an X-ray, Glendenning continued, and about another two hours after that before they decided to leave and see her regular physician the next morning.

Glendenning went on to say several of the other patients in the waiting room waited for several hours and ended up leaving before being treated as well.

“Here’s all these people and they’re all in pain and they’re not getting into the back to get any medication for anything,” Glendenning said.

Ameen called instances like these “unfortunate” and said it should start to improve once the new physicians start and become familiar with the hospital’s ER.

“As we get more consistent physicians in there, it will speed up the way we take care of patients,” Ameen said.

Because the ER receives an average of 40 patients a day, the hospital is “well within the norms one physician can handle at,” Ameen said.

ER physicians treat patients with more acute pain first and the goal is to have a “door to doc” time of less than 25 minutes, but “if people come in all at once, there [are] long waits,” Ameen said.

Ameen went on to say costs sway the hospital from keeping ER doctors on call, but the hospital does keep surgeons on call for cases when emergency surgeries are required.