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Amy Umble is health reporter for The Free Lance-Star

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At Spotsylvania Regional, a new push to make ER visits a little quicker

Dr. Oronde Smith is the new medical director in the emergency department at the Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center.

Dr. Oronde Smith arrived at the Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center this month with the goal of reducing patient wait times in the emergency room.

Hospital officials have been unhappy that many patients had to wait 30 minutes or more before seeing a provider. So they turned to Smith and his employer, EmCare, to help bring down those times.

EmCare will supply physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners for the ER. Smith, a board-certified ER physician with management experience, will be its medical director. EmCare replaces Sheridan Healthcare, which had supplied physicians for the ER since the hospital’s opening last year.

“We walked into a situation where we understood there was a need for change, an expectation for change,” Smith said. “There are parameters that had not been met.”

Smith said last week he plans to hire eight full-time doctors and four other providers and to reduce wait times by increasing coverage during peak hours. This means that two physicians and two other providers, rather than one each, will be on duty at the busiest times, usually noon to 10 p.m.

“We want to make more hours with double coverage,” he said.

Smith, 37, grew up in Queens, N.Y., and attended medical school at N.Y.U. He was the assistant director of the emergency department at the Altoona Regional Medical Center in Pennsylvania and physician manager for the emergency rooms at the base hospitals at Fort Belvoir and Fort Knox, Ky.

Recently, when his father became ill with swine flu, Smith moved him to Smith’s home in Winchester to care for him. He also cut back his work schedule by taking a job as an ER doctor at Shenandoah Memorial Hospital in Woodstock.

His father has since recovered and returned to his own home, Smith said, so when EmCare approached him about the Spotsylvania job, he took it.

Smith and his wife, Paula, have one daughter, Oniya. He expects to move the family soon to the Fredericksburg area, he said.

EmCare and Sheridan are national companies that are hired by hospitals to provide physicians for various departments within the hospital. EmCare says it has more than 500 contracts with client hospitals in nearly 40 states.