Aug. 21, 2023
Improvements achieved by a multifaceted approach across local health care partners
After nearly a year of collaboration, the Kitsap County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and Trauma Council and St. Michael Medical Center are proud to announce significant improvements in addressing ongoing health care challenges impacting the community. The organizations formalized an EMS task force composed of the regional fire chiefs and St. Michael Medical Center leadership in late summer 2022. The task force recommended a multifaceted approach to accomplish the goals of improving emergency room throughput times, decreasing wait times and expanding access to appropriate care that meets patient needs.
Through close partnership with the task force, as well as hospital staff and regional partners, the hospital decreased emergency department wait times and has maintained these improvements. Its weekly median arrival-to-triage time has decreased from 15 minutes in December 2022, to 2 minutes or less as of June 2023.
“I am grateful for the hard work of our staff and EMS partners in achieving the strong progress we’ve made. By collaborating on innovative, community-based solutions we are ensuring our emergency department preserves capacity for the most serious conditions and injuries,” said Chad Melton, President, St. Michael Medical Center.
The task force recommended several steps that have been key to reducing wait times. St. Michael Medical Center launched a new process which co-located a triage nurse at the registration desk to more quickly assess patients based on their acuity. Additionally, St. Michael implemented the internationally-recognized Virginia Mason Production System to streamline emergency department processes for improved throughput times.
“Transparent data sharing increased understanding of pre-hospital and in-hospital processes, helping the task force to identify challenges we could address. We’re pleased with the results so far and optimistic about further improvements,” said Jeff Faucett, task force member and Fire Chief, South Kitsap Fire and Rescue.
To reduce the strain of high volumes on the emergency department, the task force worked on multiple strategies to provide Kitsap residents with increased access to top-quality care both inside and outside the hospital. For example, community members in North Mason and Kitsap County have the opportunity to take a free 75-hour Washington State Home Care Aide course to become a home health professional or certified caregiver for their loved ones. The cost of the certification exam is covered by a $16,000 investment from Virginia Mason Franciscan Health.
Other initiatives that can help are CARES (Community Assistance, Referral and Education Service) programs around the county that help provide patients with more appropriate and effective resources for low acuity care than those found through the EMS system and emergency room.
Due to the critical advancements the task force accomplished, the EMS Council recently voted to incorporate their work into standard council operations. The task force will no longer meet independently, but will continue to provide consistent updates on their work and opportunities for improvement during monthly council meetings.
“To solve the challenges impacting residents of the Kitsap Peninsula, we must unite as leaders and caregivers to develop creative solutions. This task force, which I had the pleasure of observing and collaborating with, is an incredible example of all that we can accomplish when we work together to best serve the community,” said Mayor of Poulsbo, Becky Erickson
“We look forward to continued collaboration as we serve our community, and empower residents to seek the care they need,” added Faucett.
“Our doors are always open at St. Michael Medical Center,” noted Melton, “ We remain dedicated to meeting patients where they are and increasing access to care throughout the community.”
About Virginia Mason Franciscan Health
Virginia Mason Franciscan Health is an integrated health system serving the Puget Sound region, offering access to some of the country’s most prestigious experts and hospitals that are internationally known for superior quality. With a team of 18,000 team members, including nearly 5,000 employed physicians and affiliated providers, we unite the brightest health care minds in the region to provide world-class clinical excellence at 10 hospitals and nearly 300 sites of care throughout the Puget Sound area. We are proud to be the home of Bailey-Boushay House, the first skilled nursing and outpatient chronic care management program in the United States designed specifically to meet the needs of people with HIV/AIDS, and Benaroya Research Institute, which is internationally recognized for autoimmune disease research. We embrace our community’s uniquely vibrant, active culture by providing holistic, personalized and patient-centered care. We are committed to caring for the most vulnerable in our communities, especially the poor and underserved, providing more than $300 million in community benefit – free, subsidized, and reduced cost health care and programs.
About Kitsap County Emergency Medical Services and Trauma Care Council
The Kitsap County Emergency Medical Services and Trauma Care Council is composed of representatives from each of the county’s emergency medical response agencies, including local fire departments and districts as well as private ambulance companies. It develops policy, provides training and engages in quality assurance to support its members’ commitment to delivering the best pre-hospital care for the people of Kitsap County.