Hospital gets new manager for ER Move taken to improve emergency services

March 18, 1996|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

Patients who are treated at Carroll County General Hospital's emergency room can expect more attention from doctors and a greater emphasis on follow-up care, now that the emergency department is under the management of a new physician group, hospital officials say.

Emergency Medical Associates, a Rockville-based physician group, assumed leadership of the hospital's emergency department a month ago, replacing Professional Emergency Physicians, the hospital's provider of emergency services for nine years.

The hospital advertised in national medical journals for a group to run its emergency department and received responses from 20 physician groups. A search committee comprised of physicians, hospital trustees and administrators selected Emergency Medical Associates.

"Emergency Medical Associates came across as the best candidate in terms of quality staffing coverage," said Becki Vasse, vice president for patient care services at Carroll County General.

"It's our perception that this group will be able to interact with the community and that they have more experience with managed care environment," she said.

Last month, the hospital completed a $1.8 million expansion and renovation of its emergency department, adding separate treatment areas for cardiac and trauma patients. The project nearly tripled the size of the department and increased the number of beds from 12 to 21.

The decision to hire a new emergency services provider is part of an effort within Carroll County General to develop consistent standards for contracting with outside providers of medical services.

Since September, the hospital has hired new physician groups to run the anesthesiology and radiology departments. Hospital officials expect to hire a provider of pathology services soon.

"As the hospital grows, there's a need to provide a clearer definition of what's required and what the standards for each service are," Ms. Vasse said.

Under its revised contract for emergency room services, the hospital toughened its hiring criteria, requiring its emergency physicians have at least two years of emergency room experience or that they be board-certified in emergency medicine by passing a specialty test in the field after completing a residency program or accumulating a certain number of hours working in an emergency room.

"We stipulated a level of excellence that we thought we wanted our physicians to have," Ms. Vasse said.

Emergency Medical Associates employs 55 full-time emergency medical physicians who staff six other hospitals in Maryland and Virginia in the Washington metropolitan area.

As the hospital's emergency services provider, Emergency Medical Associates will be expected to emphasize patient education so that emergency-room patients have a full understanding of their medical problems upon discharge and a plan for follow-up care.

"There will be a heightened attempt to contact people post-discharge to determine patient satisfaction and how they have done," Ms. Vasse said.

Dr. David M. Crane, the hospital's new chief of emergency medicine, said Emergency Medical Associates will staff the hospital's emergency room with nine full-time emergency room physicians, increasing the level of coverage in the department.

"The emphasis will be to change to a patient-centered service ethic, meaning compassionate and timely patient care that a patient recognizes as being in his or her own best interest," he said.

For the first few months in Carroll County General's emergency room, Dr. Crane said his goal is to become comfortable and familiar with the department's structure.

"What I can say from the outside is that the department has tremendous clinical strength and I think there's no reason to change a lot of things that work well," he said.

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