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Atlantic General Hospital Celebrates One Year of 30 Minute ER Promise

Atlantic General Hospital celebrated the one year anniversary of its 30 Minute ER Promise, a commitment to the community to place ER visitors in a treatment bed or initiate their care within 30 minutes of arrival, in grand style this March. In recognition of the occasion and the tremendous success of the program, hospital administration treated all associates and medical staff to a four course gourmet meal to thank them for their support.

“Fantastic teamwork is what made the 30 Minute ER Promise a success,” said Andi-West McCabe, director of emergency services at Atlantic General. “It took a hospital-wide effort to make this happen, and it’s truly wonderful considering the hours-long waits that are the norm in ERs across the country.”

When planning for this initiative in 2006, the ER Promise steering committee set a goal to meet the 30-minute-or-less commitment at least 90 percent of the time. They set this goal with consideration for the especially high peak flow times during the busy summer months when the population of Worcester County, which includes nearby Ocean City, increases from just under 50,000 to nearly 300,000. Gift cards for local businesses were purchased to provide to those patients with longer waits to thank them for their patience and understanding.

As it turned out, the emergency department was able to meet that goal more than 94 percent of the time during the first year, from February 2007 through January 2008 – a major accomplishment considering that Atlantic General Hospital’s emergency department saw a greater than 14 percent increase in its ER usage during that same period, the highest growth grate of any hospital in the state of Maryland. The state average was 2 to 3 percent.

“We are proud that we can offer this level of service to the community,” said Michael Franklin, president and CEO of Atlantic General Hospital. “I think the program demonstrates to our area residents and visitors that we are committed to their health and to offering the best medical services possible.”

A combination of physical and technological improvements, as well as changes in procedure in several hospital departments within the last few years, allowed the steering committee to put their theory for a time promise into action, beginning with the 2003 hospital expansion that grew the emergency department to nineteen beds and provided a separate fast track area. New technology in patient registration and medication dispensing and the transport of lab samples through a pneumatic tube system helped to streamline care.

In the 12 months leading up to the launch of the 30 Minute ER Promise in February 2007, each department took a hard look at the way they do things to see if they could make any improvements that would further speed the delivery of emergency care.

“House-wide, we looked at a number of processes to see if we could eliminate any unnecessary steps or improve procedure,” said Belle Goslee, RN, clinical leader in the emergency department. “We identified any inefficiencies and corrected them, which, in the end, also improved the quality of care we can offer our patients in the emergency department.”

The 30 Minute ER Promise will continue; hospital officials feel this is a standard that must be maintained to ensure the delivery of quality medical care to the community.