Olympic Medical Center Emergency Department Enhances Patient Care Experience with Improvements

Olympic Medical Center Emergency Department Enhances Patient Care Experience with Improvements

PORT ANGELES  (July 20, 2023) – Olympic Medical Center (OMC) is pleased to announce notable advancements in its Emergency Department, aimed at providing safe, efficient, and compassionate care to the community. These improvements reflect OMC’s ongoing commitment to ensuring timely treatment and optimizing patient comfort during emergency visits. 

Over the past year, OMC has achieved positive progress in key performance indicators. The rate of patients leaving the Emergency Department ‘without being seen’ has significantly reduced, declining from 10.8% in June 2022 to an exceptional 1.9% in June of this year. Additionally, the average time from a patient’s arrival at registration to their consultation with a provider has significantly improved, decreasing from 45 minutes to approximately 14 minutes. 

“We’re dedicated to providingthe highest quality of care to our community members when they need it most. These improvements in our Emergency Department reflect our unwavering commitment to delivering safe, efficient, and patient-centered care. We are proud to see our efforts result in more rapid initial consultations with patients, improved wait times and enhanced patient experiences.” – Aaron Possin, Emergency Services Director at OMC

Emergency departments across the state and nation continue to experience challenges, particularly with a rapidly growing number of patients needing emergency and urgent care, managing patients specifically with social and behavioral needs, decreasing inpatient bed availability and systemic workforce shortages. These challenges create bottlenecks in emergency departments, including the one at OMC, which does affect how long it may take for a patient to complete their treatment. 

In line with a patient-centered approach and to help decrease the amount of time patients are in the emergency department overall, OMC has adopted an updated care model within its Emergency Department. Upon arrival and check-in, patients undergo vital sign assessments by skilled technicians. Subsequently, a dedicated triage nurse and provider do an initial evaluation of each patient, prompting initial testing, imaging and lab tests, and treatment as the emergency services team pursues an accurate diagnosis and treatment and / or discharge plan.  

VIDEO: “Why the wait?” Understanding Emergency Department wait times >>

Not every patient benefits from being placed in an emergency room bed. Oftentimes, patients can be treated and discharged from the lobby, without ever being placed in an emergency room bed. OMC also has a designated “discharge lobby” that is different from the primary emergency department lobby or from an emergency room bed, and it serves up to 15 patients a day. “Our discharge lobby is used almost every day; however, not every patient from the lobby ends up needing to be placed in the discharge lobby,” adds Possin. “We find that having flexibility in how we navigate our patients through our emergency department is key, and we continue to trial new methods to improve the patient experience.” 

OMC remains committed to continually improving the patient experience and has implemented several upgrades within the Emergency Department. Patients now have access to a patient experience advocate from 8:00 am to 11:30 pm, who provides additional support during the patient’s visit. Moreover, the introduction of an informational digital display, a large TV with cable, a courtesy phone, and charging stations contributes to a more comfortable and accommodating environment. The Emergency Department has also increased its staffing. 

In an effort to foster collaboration and improve patient outcomes, OMC works closely with other regional agencies. For example, OMC’s partnership with LifeFlight, Olympic Ambulance, and St. Michael Medical Center. When a patient requires immediate evaluation in a cardiac catheterization lab, they are promptly transferred to St. Michael’s in Silverdale. These agencies now meet on a monthly basis to discuss cases and identify opportunities for further improvement. 

The Emergency Department at OMC operates with a dedicated team of Sound Physicians providers, OMC nurses, and technicians. Sound Physicians, an emergency services medical group contracted to provide these services to OMC, has made significant progress in permanent provider staffing, hiring six doctors and three advanced practice clinicians, offering consistent coverage and care for patients. 

In a testament to the OMC’s staff and leadership, five nurses who initially held positions as traveling nurses have chosen to become permanent hospital employees. Among them is Carlee Penning, RN, who not only contributes to the nursing team but also serves as the Chair of the Community Outreach Committee. Penning’s commitment to the local community is reflected in her initiative to provide basic items such as clothing and toiletries to individuals with social services needs who arrive at OMC’s Emergency Department. 

OMC remains focused on continually improving its services, emphasizing patient-centric care and ensuring a compassionate and efficient experience for all. These significant advancements underscore OMC’s dedication to the community’s health and well-being.