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Olean General Hospital

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OGH works to keep ER wait times down

Posted on: 03/02/2016

printed in the Olean Times Herald - 3/3/16

When people are sick or injured, the last thing they want to do is wait for long periods of time in a hospital emergency room.

ER wait times are a frequent complaint among patients at any hospital and can vary for a number of reasons. While Olean General Hospital (OGH) has a much shorter average ER wait time in comparison to other hospitals, OGH has looked at ways to improve services and performance and has invested tremendously to further reduce wait times and improve patient satisfaction.

“We knew our ER waiting times were shorter than most hospitals, but we wanted to do even better,” said Jeff Zewe, RN, senior vice president, chief operating officer, Upper Allegheny Health System. “There’s always room for improvement,” he said.

Working with an outside consultant, the hospital identified opportunities such as improving triage and bed turnaround processes, standardizing staff responsibilities, instituting patient care teams and a mentor leadership team.

The goal was to reduce times from arrival to triage (initial patient evaluation), arrival to room, lower the number of those leaving without being seen by a healthcare professional, more rapidly identify high risk patients, and improve arrival to provider times and patient satisfaction scores.

In a hospital with approximately 35,000 ER visits annually, Zewe said making this investment in creating a better patient experience in what can be a scary time of uncertainty was important for our community.

“The results are clear and have made a lasting impact,” Zewe said. In fact, among medium volume, comparable sized hospitals, OGH reported one of the lowest ER wait times, according to data collected from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The report noted a state average of 32 minutes before patients were seen by a healthcare professional, whereas OGH’s average was 24 minutes. Patient satisfaction scores increased also, citing an average in the 85 percentile of likelihood of recommending the ER to others.

“We are on track to maintain these improvements. We are successful because of our staff,” said Janet Roy, nurse manager, OGH emergency department. “Community hospitals like Olean General have a real local ownership of their hospitals and we want them to have a good experience here,” Roy said.

Upper Allegheny Health System is the parent company of Bradford Regional Medical Center and Olean General Hospital. An integration of two prominent community hospitals in Southwestern New York state and Northwestern Pennsylvania, Upper Allegheny Health System’s goal is the enhancement of each hospital’s mission of care and service to their respective communities with the common goal of improving care, enhancing clinical programs and providing best-in-class service for various health needs.

Steth Orlando, RN, examines a patient at Olean General Hospital’s emergency room.

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