Wickenburg Community Hospital (WCH) is planning a significant staffing change to address current demand and anticipated growth. The change will in effect double the number of physicians available to the emergency room and acute care while adding a level of continuity for patients during their stay.
Currently, the hospital has the equivalent of one physician per 24-hour period who makes rounds to care for admitted patients while also addressing emergency room visitors. As of February 1, WCH will contract with physicians groups to provide 24-hour coverage of the emergency room in addition to separate 24-hour coverage of acute care patients. Hospitalists will be scheduled on a minimum of seven-day rotations, rather than switching daily. Meanwhile, ER specialists will stay onsite and serve in 12-hour increments.
“This group of doctors is coming together for the sole purpose of providing services to Wickenburg Community Hospital,” WCH Chief Financial Officer Mike Ellis said. “This core group will know the community better and know our patients better because this is the primary place where they will be practicing medicine.”
The changes are a result of growth in the number of ER visits in recent years, coupled with anticipated activity of the new surgical center which will open next summer, according to Chief Nursing Officer Linda Brockwell. Over the past seven years, the patient load in the ER has steadily increased to almost 6,000 – 5,968 in 2015, she said. “We anticipate that increase will continue, and we will continue to make improvements to have those physicians ready when patients come through the door,” she added.
As ER demand increased and construction of the surgical center became a reality, Brockwell and Emergency Department Supervisor Tammy Olk researched possible courses of action and visited hospitals of similar size.
“it all comes down to one physician can handle,” Olk said. She explained that once the surgical center is up and running, two specialized surgeons, who are separate from the ER/acute care group, will perform the actual surgeries but the pre- and post- operative care will be handled by acute care nurses and physicians.
Through their research, Olk and Brockwell concluded a group of physicians primarily serving WCH, and doubling the current availability of a doctor in the ER and acute care, was the best answer.
CEO Jim Tavary agreed. “This is another example of the organizational agility of WCH in identifying new and improved ways of serving our community and in strengthening the financial viability of the hospital,” he said.
Brockwell noted that the change will not be obvious to the community, but should be felt by patients in the ER and the hospital.
Published originally in The Wickenburg Sun | Written by Jeanie Williams Editor Wickenburg Sun