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Published on December 05, 2011

Washington Adventist Hospital Emergency Department Achieves One Year of No Diversion of Ambulance Patients

Enhancements in Care Also Lead to Reduced Wait Times, Increased Patient Satisfaction

Takoma Park, MD – At a time when emergency department overcrowding remains at the forefront of challenges faced by many hospitals across the country, Washington Adventist Hospital’s Emergency Department has eliminated yellow diversion of ambulance-transported patients for a full year.

The department’s care approach, which involves a physician, nurse, and medical technician in the patient’s care very early in their treatment, has also reduced wait times, increased patient satisfaction and put Washington Adventist Hospital ahead of national benchmarks in other key emergency department measures.

During “yellow diversion” ambulances are re-routed to the next nearest hospital because an emergency department cannot take any more patients by ambulance due to high volumes of patients already in the hospital.

"By not simply settling for minimizing diversion but rather eliminating it, Washington Adventist Hospital has established the standard for all emergency centers in Maryland to achieve,” said Dr. Robert Bass, Executive Director of the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems (MIEMMS), which oversees and coordinates all parts of the statewide emergency medical services (EMS). "Congratulations on this exceptional achievement."

Hospitals nationwide are battling higher volumes of emergency department visits due to the aging population and the number of emergency departments that are decreasing on a national level. Washington Adventist Hospital served 44,823 emergency patients in 2010 and has already seen an increase of 6.2% in emergency patients through October 2010.

“Maintaining zero hours of yellow diversion with increasing volumes serves as just one example of our commitment to expanding access to high-quality emergency care for our community,” said Joyce Portela, President of Washington Adventist Hospital.

Since 2009, Washington Adventist Hospital has significantly increased its efforts to decrease wait times and enhance the patient experience. The approach ensures patients with the most severe, life-threatening medical conditions get immediate attention while at the same time those with minor illnesses and injuries are seen in a separate “fast-track” area where they can receive the tests and treatment they need quickly and efficiently. Washington Adventist Hospital has an average wait-to-see-a-physician time of 17 minutes.

“Even with the challenge of working in limited space, we have been able to make innovations in care that have helped us avoid yellow diversion and put us ahead of national benchmarks in terms of patients who leave the emergency department without being treated, which can happen because the wait is too long,” said Drew White, M.D., Medical Director of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Washington Adventist Hospital.
Washington Adventist Hospital’s Emergency Department average for the number of patients that leave without being treated is four times lower than national benchmarks, according to National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NHAMCS) data. The hospital has also attained top rankings in the area of patient satisfaction of ED physicians, with physicians receiving an overall rating in the 99th percentile compared with other emergency departments across the nation.

Washington Adventist Hospital is a 281-bed acute-care facility located in Takoma Park, Maryland. Washington Adventist Hospital is Montgomery County’s first cardiac center, performing on average more than 500 open-heart surgeries and more than 6,000 heart catheterizations each year. The Hospital is the first accredited Cycle III Chest Pain Center in the DC Metro Area. Washington Adventist Hospital is part of Adventist HealthCare, an integrated health-care delivery system based in Rockville, Maryland, that is one of the largest employers in the state of Maryland.

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