When you think of emergency services, what comes to mind?
Sirens flashing? Patients rushing into the emergency room? Maybe a scene from your favorite medical drama on TV?
When we think of emergency services at Altru, we think about the positive changes in our emergency room and ambulances that help provide better, quicker access to care for our patients.
Improved Wait Times and Service
Health emergencies happen. When they do, you need care now. Luckily, that care is available, quickly. From January 1 through August 31, 2014, we’ve served:
- 32,113 patients in our emergency room and urgent care combined,
- seeing an average of 83 patients per day in our ER alone.
Thanks to increased communication and refined processes, our average wait and admission times have decreased. The providers and staff are continually focused on keeping the patient at the very center of their work to ensure a great experience.
We continue to “direct bed” patients so care can begin. If there’s an open bed in the emergency department, the patient is brought back immediately. Registration can then take place at the bed side.
Altru’s paramedics respond to a wide variety of calls on a daily basis, some 4,755 calls since the beginning of the year. Some calls require the administration of CPR. Those patients now have new technology to help them breathe again.
Thanks to grant money from the North Dakota Department of Health, LUCAS devices were purchased for our ambulance services personnel to use. These automatic CPR machines provide hands-free compressions during cardiac arrest. The automation ensures the patient receives properly timed compressions, while alleviating responder fatigue and incorrect form. They also lessen the number of responders necessary for each patient, allowing them to perform other duties including administering medication and IVs as necessary.
Additional LUCAS devices are slated for the emergency outpatient department and intensive care unit.
When it comes to the heart, time is muscle. The more time that goes by, the harder it becomes for the heart, a muscle, to function. When a patient is suffering from a ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI), they experience a heart attack caused by a completely blocked vessel. This kind of heart attack affects large areas of heart muscles, and will register on an electrocardiogram (EKG).
With advanced equipment and technology, our paramedics are able to transmit EKG data directly from the field to our ER physicians. With this information, our STEMI team of cardiologists and cath lab staff is activated very quickly.
Response times to open critically blocked circulation to the heart has significantly decreased. Since this process was implemented in the ER in early 2013, we have been at 100 percent compliance on meeting the national goal time of less than 90 minutes to have the artery open, with a median time of 47 minutes.
Altru’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) staff takes pride in the delivery of quality service to our customers, whether they require emergency, urgent or elective care. Altru is a Level II Trauma Center serving northeastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota. This designation from the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma and the North Dakota Department of Health attests to our high quality of care.
We know this is an important community asset and strive to make each and every interaction as positive as it can be during stressful and uncertain times. If you have feedback on care you’ve received, please let us know.
See also: Emergency Room: Times are Improving (January 2014)
Renee Axtman, RN, is Altru’s Administrative Director of Primary Care and has been with Altru for 30 years. She received her bachelor’s in nursing from the University of North Dakota. Renee serves on the United Way board, her church committee and is active in youth sports organizations. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with family (husband, three sons and new grandbaby) and friends, traveling, sports, photography and gardening.