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This past Friday, DRMC hosted a grand opening for their new expanded ER, heart center, and neo-natal unit (they have dropped the NICU label as a result of no qualified staff). Although, the new units are impressive, where is the staff... nurses and physicians?
Same old same old said...
I have to admit, as I said, it was faster to get out of there than my past experiences. The prior time that I was there with my poor Alzheimer's diseased relative, who had to wait on a hard gurney for 8 hours before finally being admitted to a room for a severe UTI, trapped in a cubicle with another dementia patient....I thought I would have to admit myself at the end of that day. Now that was bad!
This time, even last time, the staff were doing the best that they could do. I am not knocking the staff, I am knocking the fact of their limitations. One clerk??? Yes, that was my main point.As for the others, yes, I do believe we were taken first due to the severity of my family member's injury. Thank goodness there is a protocol for urgency.
My second point is that there is now a free clinic and these potential patients without insurance should be made aware of this alternative, rather than creating bills that they will not be able to pay and becoming a financial burden on the DRMC. I am not saying that DRMC should turn anyone away without insurance, not at all, I am just saying the free clinic should be more publicized, to prevent the ER becoming a health clinic for those who have no other choices, the free clinic gives them a choice and most likely a shorter waiting period to endure.
And 3 hours is a long time to be sitting and waiting in a 5 X 6 cubicle/room for attention or test results, in comparison to my last 8 though, it was an improvement. There just were not enough physicians on staff to be able to get it covered any faster. At one point, we actually had been forgotten. I suspected so and went to investigate. The nurse was startled to see that we were still there and finally went to get the physician with the results! I hate sitting in those rooms with the door closed just for that reason, out of sight and out of mind is very true.
Even in an efficiently run ER, wait times do frequently seem excessive... from the patients' perspective anyway.
DRMC's inefficiency has to do with staffing. On any given day, even if everyone who is scheduled shows up for work (no call-ins), all units are grossly understaffed. There are both fiscal and political reasons for this lack of staff; all of which have been frequently addressed on the Scoop.
"Same old" does however, touch upon a problem that plagues every hospital in the Delta, which is that hospital ERs are being used as free clinics! This is a problem created by our current system of health care.
While no one can legally be denied services based on their ability to pay, the majority of patients seen in Delta ERs are Medicaid or "self-pay", meaning they have no insurance and the hospital will most likely collect nothing for their services.
Sure, these under-insured patients could go to a free clinic... but why?
Their ER visit will cost them only $3.00 (Medicaid) or nothing if they have no insurance at all. They will see an MD instead of a nurse practitioner and if they need lab, radiology, or additional tests, they get it all done in one stop... for one price.
The bottom line is that the only patients who are dissuaded from going to the ER are the insured. They face an immediate co-payment of from $75 to $150 dollars... and they get the exact same treatment and level of care as those who pay either $3.00... or nothing!
Yes, our health care system in this country is in serious trouble! Regardless of who checks in the White House in January, health care needs to be our number one concern.
As I have often stated, change will not happen until taxpaying citizens demand it.