[KHTS] – According to Dr. David Henry, physician director of emergency services at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, the goal of the Emergency Department is to give each patient quick and thorough treatment, whether it’s a heart attack patient or an uninsured family needing basic care.
The local emergency room treated about 52,000 patients last year, or about 140 patients each day and sometimes sees as many as 15 in an hour, Henry said.
The Henry Mayo ER has grown significantly in the last seven years, in terms of the kind of care it can offer to patients and simply how many patients it can handle at a time.
In 2007, the ER underwent a $25 million renovation to more than double its capacity for a total of 36 beds.
“Even with that, we still had a lot of needs for improving patient care,” Henry said.
About two years ago, the hospital invited medical consulting firm Blue Jay to evaluate the ER’s efficiency and patient satisfaction.
Since then, ER staff have changed the way they process incoming patients. Now a trained nurse, technician and clerk–instead of a security officer–greet patients at the door.
While the nurse does visual triage, the clerks prepares a chart for the patient, so they can determine whether the patient needs to be taken back for immediate treatment.
Staff have also tried to reduce the time that patients spend in the waiting room before being taken to a bed, Henry said, making sure that sicker people are seen more quickly.
“People come to the emergency room to see a doctor, not be triaged,” he said.
Because the ER might see two patients in an hour, or 15, it is important to have all the right resources in place, in the event of a disaster like a multi-car collision on the freeway
“The biggest problem for most emergency rooms,” Henry said, “is trying to get to everyone who comes in at every hour of the day without a scheduled appointment.”
For example, it’s impossible to schedule an appointment for a heart attack or stroke, but now Henry Mayo is prepared to deal with those conditions.
In 2010, the hospital was certified by the Joint Commission for Primary Stroke Centers as an Advanced Primary Stroke Center.
And then in 2013, they were approved for a STEMI accreditation by the Los Angeles County Emergency Medical Services Agency.
STEMI stands for ST elevated myocardial infarctions, the deadliest form of heart attack, which Henry Mayo doctors are now authorized to treat.
Previously, these victims had to be transported to hospitals in other parts of Los Angeles County.
In the future, Henry Mayo also plans to renovate the ER’s waiting, using a grant from Disney to redecorate the kids area.
Doctors for Those Without a Doctor
While ER doctors often treat the most critical patients, they also function as the primary care physicians for the uninsured and underinsured in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Many clinics that normally serve this population can only provide routine care, Henry said, but cannot treat illnesses like ear infections or colds.
“We see a fair number of kids who are sick with earaches and colds,” he said.
About 20 percent of their patients are pediatric.
In addition to expanding their beds and range of services, Henry Mayo is hiring three new ER doctors. Check back on HomeTownStation.com in the next couple of weeks for interviews with these doctors.
Henry has worked in medicine for more than 25 years. He finished his residency at the University of Southern California in 1987 and has been at the helm of Henry Mayo’s ER for the last 15 years.
He was inspired to pursue emergency medicine by his older brother, who also worked in the field.
“I’ve always enjoyed being able to take on a medical issue that you can more or less solve in one visit,” Henry said. “In emergency medicine, you can diagnose a problem and at least get someone on the way to getting better with one short visit.”
He described his job as “doing good quickly.”