SITKA - The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital opened a new triage room so walk-in patients can meet with a registered nurse who will guide them to the care they need.
Triage accepted its first patient on June 3 and is located in Room 96, right next to Admitting by the main entrance to Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital. The triage nurses - Shannon Callahan and Carolyn Jarvill - also take phone calls, so patients can speak directly to a registered nurse or patients can leave a message and expect a return call within 60 minutes. Shannon says the hospital gets about seven walk-in patients a day, with needs ranging from heart attack symptoms to someone wanting prescription refills.
"The nurse will gather information from the patients and route them to the proper level of care," Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital Outpatient Manager Colleen Dahlquist, RN, said. "We implemented something we think will be better for patients."
"The No. 1 reason is now a patient can speak to a qualified person who can expedite them to urgent care, the emergency room or their primary care provider," said Kathy Kahler, NP, the Chief of Service for the Outpatient Department. "They actually get to speak to a person."
The motivation behind the new triage room was a response to patients who said they needed a way to find out whether to go to urgent care or the emergency room, or, for those calling from home, if they should come to the hospital at all. Triage will help patients navigate the system more efficiently, so they can receive the approriate level of care in a timely fashion.
In addition to the new triage room, there will be new phone choices when patients call the Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital Outpatient Department at 966-8318. In addition to being connected to the triage nurse, patients can be connected to a medication refill line that is checked twice daily or patients can choose to speak with one of the Outpatient receptionists to schedule or make changes to their routine appointments with their medical providers.
"We've listened carefully to your suggestions and are pleased to implement a new triage system," Dahlquist said. "This choice will allow you to speak with a nurse available to evaluate your same-day needs when you call or walk in. The nurse also will be able to answer your health care questions or concerns."
"It truly will improve the way we provide care because this is patient-centered," said Alyssa Sexton, RN, MSN, the Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital Director of Nursing.