Mountain View, CA - August 31, 2010 - Bucking a trend that has seen California emergency room (ED) wait times rocket to an average of more than four and a half hours--El Camino Hospital's Los Gatos and Mountain View EDs keep the average patient waiting less than a half hour. "Over the past year, we've seen 69 percent percent of our patients in less than 15 minutes," said Dr. Karen Pike, ED medical director at El Camino Hospital Los Gatos. "And within 30 minutes, 91 percent have seen a physician."
At El Camino Hospital's Mountain View facility, the average wait time to see a physician in the ED has dropped from 31 minutes to around 15 minutes since 2006. Patients are seen, treated and released (if not admitted) in an average of 139 minutes.
"We're able to see and treat patients quickly by implementing a triage process," said Dr. Dan Fox, medical director in the ED. "A physician or physician assistant makes a quick evaluation of every patient almost at the door. And using new technology, we can even have heart patients monitored in transit, so we are ready the instant they reach the ED."
Dr. Fox said that the changes required looking at an emergency department visit from the standpoint of the patient. "If a customer walked into any other business, he or she would be greeted by someone whose job it is to find out what they need," he said. "We realized that at a minimum, we should do the same thing. By meeting the patient almost at the door, we also can quickly assess whether we need to order medications or other treatments--and get the process moving faster."
Both facilities of El Camino Hospital make a point of coordinating elective surgeries and other predictable hospital admissions to ensure that beds are open should ED patients need to be admitted to the hospital for further treatment.
That's good news for those who live near the two hospitals. With hospital ED visits climbing more than 23 percent from 1997 to 2007, the experience of visiting an ED has become ever more frustrating. Some attribute the rise to a higher rate of visits by MediCal patients (694 per 1000 recipients in 1999 to 947 per 1000 in 2007) combined with overall population growth and the closure of about 5 percent of the state's EDs during that period.
In addition to little or no waiting, El Camino Hospital offers extraordinary stroke and coronary care. The Mountain View hospital is the first Chest Pain Center in the South Bay and the Peninsula to receive full Accreditation with PCI (percutaneous coronary intervention) from the Society of Chest Pain Centers for its treatment of acute coronary syndrome (ACS). It also has received the Gold Seal of Approval from The Joint Commission for Stroke Center, demonstrating that its stroke program is meeting national standards and guidelines that can significantly improved outcomes for stroke. Fewer than 200 primary stroke centers in the United States earn this designation.
"There's no reason for a local patient to go elsewhere," said Dr. Fox. "Everything they need is right here. And best of all, patients don't have to wait for it."