By: Sarah Snyder
MIDLAND - If you've ever waited in the E.R. waiting room you know how long you'll be sitting there, But Midland Memorial Hospital has come up with a new way to combat that.
Hospital officials say all too often people don't know where to turn for medical help and that results in an overcrowding in the emergency rooms. But Midland Memorial is making some changes that will not only save patients and physicians time, but it will also help your wallet.
"Often times, patients don't know where to go," Bob Dent, VP of Nursing at Midland Memorial Hospital, said.
It's a new way of finding healthcare and Midland Memorial is planning two stages, the first is to help patients figure out where to go before they even start up the car.
"I think the biggest part of this is going to be the telephone nurse triage, the 68-NURSE line," Dent said.
When you call, a nurse will listen to your condition and direct you to the best place for treatment.
"It could be in the emergency department and they'll send them right away, it could be in a clinic, it could be in a doctor's office and scheduling those appointments, or it could be to stay at home," Dent said.
Second, if you do find yourself in the E.R. with a non-emergency, they'll offer a screening and ask questions before you receive treatment.
"What we're trying to do is either save you time and money by getting you to the most appropriate care so you don't use the emergency department and receive a bill for emergency care that you may not need," Dent said.
These two new proceedures aim to help Midlanders on a fixed income find the right place to go.
"There haven't been that many options for care for folks who can't afford it," Michael Austin, Ph.D. with Midland Community Healthcare Services, said. "A lot of them end up going to the emergency room, because they don't know any more appropriate avenue to get care or they can't afford to get care anywhere else and the emergency room essentially has to take all comers. They can't turn them away."
And Midland Community Healthcare Services has been gearing up and adding new physicians to help out.
"Our goal is to be able to absorb as many of those non-emergency patients into our clinics as we can and do it efficiently, quickly, and as smoothly for the patient as possible," Dr. Austin said.