At Saint John’s Emergency Department, Minutes Don’t Turn Into Hours

July 01, 2013
Emergency department
Long waits in hospital emergency departments are a common occurrence in U.S. health care. But that’s not the typical experience for patients at Saint John’s Health Center.

Under the direction of Russ Kino, MD, director of emergency services, patients arriving at the Saint John’s emergency department who have less severe symptoms are directed to a special area where they’re seen and treated without having to wait for more serious cases to be handled.

"We do have a very speedy, fasttrack turnaround time,” Dr. Kino explains. “If people have a minor type of problem – cough, cold, sprained ankle, laceration – they can get in and out usually within an hour. That makes people very happy. During the busy part of the day – in the afternoon and evening time – we try to have one of our physicians or physician assistants see a patient in the first five to ten minutes of arrival. Even if a bed is not available, we will order tests and medication to get treatment underway immediately.

“We also utilize scribes in the emergency department to support the physician in note taking while he or she sees a patient. The ER scribe is well-trained and focuses on documentation of patient visits and supports the physician’s needs, allowing for increased efficiency in the department – enhancing the patient experience.

“We do try to make sure people have a good patient experience,” Dr. Kino says. “And we have every kind of specialist you can think of on our on-call panel to answer calls 24–7.”