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WakeMed News Releases

July 18, 2006
Free-standing EDs, Observation Beds and Children’s ED Improves Capacity, Throughput

RALEIGH, N.C. (July 17, 2006) –WakeMed Health & Hospitals is pleased to report that its average wait time to see a doctor in the systems’ four emergency departments is 135 minutes below the national average.

An article published in USA Today on June 1, 2006 indicated that emergency department wait times nationally averaged 222 minutes, or 3.7 hours before being seen by a provider. WakeMed’s average wait time for patients once they enter one of the systems’ emergency departments is 87 minutes, or one hour and 27 minutes. The article was based on a Press Ganey Associates survey of 1.5 million patient questionnaires filled out in 2005.

Janice Frohman, RN, director, Emergency Services, Raleigh Campus, explained that, “With the growing population in the Triangle, we have seen emergency department visits increase 47 percent in the past 10 years. This influx requires emergency departments to grow and change, adding staff, capacity and even new facilities.”

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) also released a study recently that has national attention focused on the U.S. emergency care system. The study examines the extended wait times, issues with ambulance diversion and most importantly the ability to respond in the event of a disaster. WakeMed works hard to keep wait times in check, ambulance diversion at a minimum and all facilities prepared for a disaster.

A key WakeMed strategy is to add free-standing emergency departments to meet the needs of a growing population by bringing emergency services closer to where citizens live. The hospital system opened the state’s first free-standing Emergency Department at WakeMed North Healthplex in July 2005. Ground breaking on the system’s second free-standing emergency department at WakeMed Apex Healthplex is scheduled for fall of 2006 and a Certificate of Need (CON) was submitted on June 15 for a free-standing emergency department at WakeMed East Healthplex in Eastern Wake County.

The IOM study showed that emergency departments are struggling to see patients quickly due to the lack of bed space for patients who need to be observed for more than a few hours or admitted to the hospital. A second successful WakeMed strategy is to add observation beds to increase bed capacity. The system added 26-emergency services observation beds in 2005, and a CON for 36 additional emergency services observation beds was submitted to the state on June 1.

The IOM study pointed out that there is a lack of specialized emergency services available for children. WakeMed opened North Carolina’s first free-standing Children’s Emergency Department in 1997. The department cares for more than 45,000 children each year. The WakeMed Children’s Emergency Department features child-friendly décor, specially trained physicians and has child-sized instruments and equipment. Dedicated pediatric rooms are also available at WakeMed North Healthplex and at Cary Hospital’s Emergency Department. Additionally, many physicians who staff WakeMed Emergency Departments are cross-trained in pediatrics.

WakeMed currently features four emergency departments, the Children’s Emergency Department on the Raleigh Campus, the Adult Emergency Department on the Raleigh Campus, a full-service Emergency Department at Cary Hospital and the free-standing Emergency Department at WakeMed North Healthplex. Two additional free-standing Emergency Departments are in the planning stages. WakeMed Raleigh Campus is also Wake County’s only trauma center.
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