Life Lessons from the ER: Listen and Change for the Better

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You may have watched an ER TV series and thought, “Wow, this is exhilarating!” But if you became a patient in real life, the all-to-real life drama may play out with a different set of feelings.

Fear. Anxiety. Worry. Physical and emotional pain. Extreme sickness. These are all of the things patients can feel when their life is threatened by a medical emergency.

And if you have to wait to get the answers and relief you need, we recognize that it can add to an already physically, emotionally and spiritually challenging experience.

In fact, lowering ER wait times has become a major priority for us at AdventHealth Manchester.

We spoke with Jeffery Newswanger, DO, Chief Medical Officer and emergency room physician at AdventHealth Manchester about their whole-person care philosophy and how the emergency room is listening to the community’s needs and changing for the better.

A Fully Staffed ER Team

“We’re really excited about the team we have now,” says Dr. Newswanger.

He adds, “Despite a national nursing shortage, we’ve dedicated resources to build a fully-staffed ER team of experienced ER nurses, and physicians, too.”

In the recent past, there have been times when we could not utilize all of the ER rooms because of a shortage of nurses. Today, we are able to fully staff all 13 rooms to provide the most efficient, high-quality ER care possible.

“Even though we are in a rural community, we’ve been able to attract top talent and a very strong, solid emergency department team that’s mission-driven,” Dr. Newswanger states.

“This team has refocused and reenergized our care. The physicians and nurses have the infrastructure and resources to provide the best and most timely emergency care possible to our community,” Dr. Newswanger explains.

Customize Care for the Community’s Health Needs

Not all emergency care is created equal. In reality, the care is best when shaped by the community’s and patients’ needs.

In a rural community such as Manchester, emergency care needs can be more serious compared to those of bigger cities. This is because access to routine health care can be a challenge when residents live in more remote, rural counties.

“We see a sicker population than the average ER,” says Dr. Newswanger. “Many of our patients have less access to preventive and routine health care, so needs can go unmet until they experience a crisis, which leads them to the ER. We’re working hard to develop a system of care that helps people avoid the ER with regular health maintenance programs,” he adds.

Developing a System of Connected Health Care

One such effort to bridge the gap is to help patients schedule follow-up appointments and connect them to whatever they may need for additional testing, diagnosis and treatment.

“A big part of what we do is helping patients find the care they need so they can be healthier. We recently opened a new primary care clinic, and we can also provide access to more specialist care, such as cancer care, heart care, orthopedics and more,” explains Dr. Newswanger.

More Specialized Radiology Services

Another unique service offered at AdventHealth Manchester is subspecialty radiology reads. What this means is that the hospital has access to radiologists with special training and experience in subspecialties, such as pediatrics, neurology, oncology and so forth.

“We’re currently implementing new systems to improve the efficiency of our specialty radiology reads. In the past, patients may have had to wait a little longer to get these high-quality results, but we’re committed to shortening this wait, so patients have a more accurate diagnosis and quicker path to treatment,” states Dr. Newswanger.

Shortening Overall Wait Times

ER’s don’t have a patient schedule. Every day, doctors, nurses and staff walk in the doors and have no idea what the day has in store. This is because emergencies are, by nature, unplanned.

So, while the ER staff can’t always plan for what’s ahead; they can create systems to be ready to adjust and deliver the most effective and appropriate ER care.

“One thing that people don’t often realize is how many people come to the emergency room for conditions or symptoms related to mental illness,” says Dr. Newswanger.

“We see a lot of people who may come in with a physical complaint, but the root cause is psychosocial, especially around the holidays,” he adds.

With this in mind, Dr. Newswanger shares that the hospital has recently expanded its mental health counseling team from one to two therapists.

“Now, we can refer patients to more providers who can help them with mental health counseling and care outside of the emergency room. This ongoing care can bring the right care to the right people who need it and help them prevent a more critical situation that leads to an ER visit in the future.”

Educating the Community

“It’s important to know when to come to the ER, so we can ensure that we have our staff ready and available to prioritize the true medical emergencies,” says Dr. Newswanger.

Dr. Newswanger explains that the flu is a common reason people rush to the ER for help.

“We educate our community that while the flu can be serious and cause a lot of uncomfortable symptoms, it’s generally advised to see your primary care provider if concerned or rest and treat it at home unless the patient is an infant, elderly or frail individual, or someone of any age with a serious chronic health condition, like asthma or diabetes.”

“Our primary care clinic is open until 10:00 pm, seven days a week, so this can be a resource to anyone not in the high-risk categories with a more acute condition like the flu,” he adds.

A Culture of Kindness

Dr. Newswanger shares, “Our team has grown in the last year, but we’ve maintained our culture of kindness and closeness. We have an energetic and tightly-bonded team, which make it a place that our staff likes to work and patients appreciate.”

He concludes, “We’re listening to the community’s needs and are dedicated to continuously evolving to deliver better, whole-person care.”

Learn more about AdventHealth Manchester’s emergency care.

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