Idaho Hospital Plans to Cut ER Wait Times
LEWISTON, Idaho (AP) — A hospital in north-central Idaho is looking to cut emergency room wait times by revamping its procedures, but the changes could cost some patients more money.
The Lewiston Tribune reports that St. Joseph Regional Medical Center's interim CEO Michael Rooney says long emergency room wait times are one of the areas that leave patients dissatisfied. The hospital used to staff the ER registration desk with an intake clerk, and the clerk was the first hospital employee emergency room patients saw unless they arrived by ambulance.
Now the hospital is staffing that desk with a triage nurse, to make sure that patients with seemingly benign symptoms like heartburn aren't actually suffering from something more serious. The hospital has also stopped offering its minor care program at the hospital, which sometimes caused bottlenecks for the emergency room. Rooney says those patients can still get minor care at an off-site, walk-in clinic, but people who go to the emergency room for minor ailments will likely face higher insurance co-pays.