As a public hospital, Stroger Hospital in Chicago is often jammed with adults who have limited or no access to primary care. And even though the hospital has a separate pediatric emergency room, many of its young patients have been forced to wait around until they could be shuffled through the process with the adults.
Recently, Stroger instituted a pediatric no-wait policy that moves young patients out of the line and straight into the pediatric emergency room.
“Our adult ER is just swamped and they do a fantastic job, but they’re overwhelmed by the numbers,” says Dr. David Soglin, chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at Stroger. “On the pediatric side, we’re not nearly as overwhelmed, but we were having pediatric patients stuck in the process of getting triaged and registered.”
Now, as soon as children enter the main emergency room, they are taken back to a bed or chair in the pediatric ER, where triage nurses begin their evaluations. Instead of leaving their child’s side to fill out registration papers, parents can stay with the child while a registration clerk comes to them. Physicians can start caring for the child while parents complete registration.
“In the old system, children would get triaged, then registered, then seen. Now this can occur simultaneously,” says Soglin. “I think we’ve cut a significant amount of time from door to door.”
Even if the number of pediatric patients jumps as a result of the expected flu season, the no-wait policy still should cut a significant amount of time out of the process. And if children do have to wait, they will be in the child-friendly pediatric area, Soglin says.
“Families have been very happy with it,” he says. “They come expecting to be here forever, and then to be in and out in a pretty brief amount of time is a surprise.”