Elizabethtown Elizabethtown Community Hospital has added an ambulance transport service to its emergency department. Integrating an ambulance with the hospital’s services allows it to improve the quality of patient care by cutting transfer time in half.
The hospital purchased an ambulance at the end of 2011 and outfitted it with all necessary equipment. It has also hired an ambulance driver, along with emergency medical staff to operate the hospital’s transfer program.
Historically, ECH has relied on the region’s ambulance services to transfer its patients. Until recently, one of those services was stationed in Westport, able to reach the hospital in 15 minutes. “The issue is time,” said Emergency Department Manager Julie Tromblee, RN. “This hospital must ensure that patients receive the care they need as quickly as possible. Waiting for an ambulance service to travel 40 minutes to reach our facility, pickup the patient and then travel another 40 minutes to another facility is simply not an option.”
The ECH transport unit will be stationed on hospital property, ready to transfer a patient in minutes.
Currently, local emergency medical squads (EMS) from throughout Essex County bring patients to the hospital, some of which are trauma or critical care cases. After ECH staff provides initial care and stabilizing treatment, the hospital transfers these patients to other facilities. Trauma and stroke patients are transferred to Burlington via helicopter whenever possible. Patients that require cardiac care or emergency surgical procedures are typically transferred to Plattsburgh or Burlington via ambulance.
“ECH is a federally-designated critical access hospital,” explained Jane Hooper, director of community relations. “Critical access hospitals have a very unique and specific role: to assess and stabilize patients so that they can survive transport to a trauma center, heart center or stroke center to receive the specific type of care required.”
Patients with significant illness or injury have limited time to receive treatment – it’s an amount of time known as the “golden hour.” Critical access hospitals serve to extend that timeframe by treating and stabilizing the patient, so that there is more time to get to a larger facility. ECH’s role is to provide that initial life-saving care, stabilize for transport, and arrange the most appropriate transport method.
The hospital has hired an ambulance driver, a full time critical-care emergency medical technician (EMT), and part-time critical care EMT. Each of these positions will be working within the hospital’s emergency department when not providing transport. Other hospital personnel will be “on call” to drive the vehicle during evening hours, and nurses will occasionally travel with the patient when required.