Thompson recently completed a 12-bed Observation Unit, the first of its kind in the Finger Lakes region.
The $2.1 million project accommodates patients who require evaluation and treatment for a short period of time and who are considered to be on “observation status,” based on a set of criteria created by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and used by all hospitals.
Of the more than 27,000 Emergency Department visits at Thompson in 2016, approximately 7 percent resulted in “observation” status. These patients, who arrive following possible strokes or cardiac events, for example, have diagnostic tests run, treatments administered and results analyzed as physicians develop an effective care plan. While waiting, the patients need medical supervision for a period of time, often eight to 23 hours.
Thompson Health President/CEO Michael F. Stapleton, Jr., FACHE, says moving observation patients to the dedicated unit allows Thompson to free up beds in its Emergency Department and increase inpatient capacity during peak times, such as flu season. In addition to enhancing patient satisfaction, Stapleton says the dedicated Observation Unit will shorten the length of stay for some patients and allow Thompson to manage its patient load more efficiently.
Director of Hospital Medicine Dr. Ali Hamdan echoes Stapleton, saying the unit will bring a higher standard of patient-focused care to Thompson.
“Now, patients who are low-acuity and low-risk will have a quiet, comfortable place geared specifically toward them, where they can wait for the answers they need before returning in a timely fashion to the comfort of their own homes,” Hamdan says.
And Dr. David Baum, senior vice president of Medical Services, notes the unit is optimal for those patients who are not well enough to return home.
“On occasion, patients exhibit a progression of their illness or become clinically unstable and require a formal admission to the hospital,” he says. “The observation status allows our physician providers the added time to assess for potential instability.”