COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Long waits at the emergency room could be a thing of the past at Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs. Many patients are being seen by a doctor in minutes even if their emergency is not severe.
Memorial Hospital central sees more than 100,000 people in its ER, but as of March the waiting rooms have been nearly empty.
"What patients want is to see the physician, and to see the physician quickly. So, we have taken away triage," said Laura Rogers, the director of emergency services.
The majority of patients are now quickly assessed by a nurse and led into the hospital to see a doctor.
"You are going to get seen, treated, and out the door without having to wait through a lot of people waiting to be seen," said Roger.
The new plan was in the works before the University of Colorado bought Memorial Hospital. Doctors, nurses, maintenance workers, and administrations met in an office dubbed the war room to talk about how patients should be helped.
The hospital hired the consultant agency Insight Strategies to help develop and implement the change, now one of the busiest emergency rooms in the country, and the busiest in Colorado, is seeing some patients within minutes of their arrival.
"In the past there would be times I would walk in the room and apologize for the wait. I have to catch myself now. I have taken care of patients this week that were in to see me and were taken care of and evaluated within minutes," said Dr. George Hertner.
Memorial Hospital is the first hospital of its size to make this change and see success.
"In the past I'd almost never see a patient in 10 or 15 minutes unless they came in having a cardiac arrest or trauma," said Hertner.
Officials at Memorial Hospital said it has been able to see more patients without having to include additional staff. It is still too early to tell if this change will also be a financial gain for the hospital.
Monday's are the hospital's busiest days. The average wait was longer than 5 hours when the hospital still used Triage, and now it's about 3 hours on average.