TROY — Upper Valley Medical Center’s new observation unit is designed to determine what is happening with patients, meet their medical needs, and return them home as soon as possible.
A stay in the unit is typically less than 24 hours, said Jean Heath, a UVMC director of nursing. The 10-bed unit that opened in late 2016 is similar to units used solely for observation patients at other Premier Health hospitals.
“Premier Health/UVMC prides itself on being in the forefront of advancing patient experience and quality. And one area where we are making strides is the development of a closed observation unit,” said Becky Rice, president of UVMC. “There are many achievable goals to benefit patients centering on lowering their length of stay at the hospital, appropriately monitoring testing, and transitioning patients to their physician for immediate follow-up.”
Observation patients are taken to the unit at the referral of hospitalists in the emergency department. The patient receives tests and observation, but is not admitted to the hospital, Heath explained.
“It is for those patients who need a boost, and then can get back home,” Heath said.
Prior to opening the unit, patients staying for observation were placed on care units with admitted patients.
Having such patients on one unit helps focus on their specific needs. “They already are expecting a short visit,” Heath said. “The emergency department staff explains to the patient that they are going to be in an observation unit. They are told the doctor wants to run some tests.”
The unit set-up allows for more efficiencies, Heath noted.
“Staff hired into the unit like the fast pace. The team of nurses is in tune with how this moves,” she said.
Hospitalist Willie Craft, M.D., is the observation unit director. Stephanie Kaiser, B.S.N., is unit manager.
The unit’s creation was in cooperation with all departments from lab and imaging to nutrition services, environmental, and the emergency department. The information technology department created a tracking board for the unit similar to an airport flight information board with details such as when the patient arrived, their room and testing to help keep all patients on track.
“Nationally, this approach has proven communities are provided high quality, cost competitive health care services for patients,” Heath said. “It is part of our vital work to improve and sustain the safety and quality of care we provide for our patients. It is building healthier communities.”