Emergency rooms and urgent care centers in some metropolitan areas are struggling under the weight of high patient volumes. As detailed in an article published in the Boston Globe, for example, South Shore Health in Massachusetts is averaging 105 ambulance arrivals daily currently, compared with its more typical 80 to 90 per day in the past. That, naturally, is leading to an overcrowded emergency room (165 patients in the 70-bed ED on a recent day). Of course, ED personnel have the option of directing nonemergent patients to the nearest urgent care center. What happens when that facility is brimming with too many patients, though? Children’s Mercy urgent care centers have gone to unusual measures to cope with their own current surge, according to a report from KMBC News in Kansas City: requiring parents to make appointments to bring their children in rather than accepting the walk-in traffic for which urgent care is known. It’s important to note that doing so is likely to actually improve the patient experience by reducing wait times while also lowering risk for patients becoming infected by one another by sitting the waiting room.
As Visits Swell, Can New Measures Help Stabilize Patient Flow?