About Amy Umble:
Amy Umble is health reporter for The Free Lance-Star
Spreading the ER volume around
When you think about it, the increase in the number of emergency rooms in the region has been amazing. In the span of about 16 months, the area went from one emergency room to four. Patients now can choose from Mary Washington Hospital, Stafford Hospital, the Freestanding Emergency Department and Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center.
It’s too soon to know how Spotsylvania will affect the volumes at the other three, but the opening of Stafford and the freestanding ED last year did reduce traffic at Mary Washington.
Dr. Jody Crane, an ER physician and one of the leaders of the physician practice that staffs Mary Washington Healthcare’s three ERs, said yesterday that Mary Washington used to see up to 300 patients a day at its ED. After Stafford and the freestanding opened, the typical volume dropped to 200 patients a day.
“We were pushing our maximum capacity. We were doing everything we could to get people through the door,” Crane said.
By spreading the volume among the three locations, wait times have been reduced. Crane said that 90 percent of patients at Mary Washington’s ER are now seen by a doctor in 30 minutes or less. The freestanding ED has turned in even better numbers, he said. “It’s routinely in the 15-minute range,” he said.