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Statement regarding wait times at the Tift Regional Medical Center Emergency Department

President/CEO Chris Dorman, the Executive Staff, and Emergency Department (ED) leadership at Tift Regional Medical Center (TRMC) are aware of recent comments posted on social media regarding ED wait times.

While each of the concerns are important to us, we are unable to respond to specific posts due to HIPAA privacy laws, which protect the health information of our patients.  For our team to best understand concerns and evaluate any action steps, we encourage patients to call our Patient Advocate at 229-353-CARE. 

Like many rural hospitals around the nation, TRMC continues to deliver care to the most vulnerable populations while contending with staffing and resource constraints, limited supplies, and access to some physician specialists.

Hospitals like TRMC are also seeing an influx of patients with behavioral health issues and lower-acuity illnesses. ED patients are prioritized based on the severity of their injury or illness, so this may cause a longer wait for some patients.

In addition, patients have to occasionally be held in the ED after they have been admitted to the hospital. This is because inpatient beds may not be immediately available.  Though TRMC opened a brand new patient tower in December 2021, the number of licensed inpatient beds (181) did not increase. Instead, TRMC was able to convert to all-private rooms.

Clinical and administrative leadership at TRMC consistently examine data and evaluate processes in order to enhance throughput, or patient flow. This includes seeking ways to improve the timeliness of inpatient discharges and the turnover of hospital rooms. 

Here are some other ways TRMC is addressing ED wait times:

  • Provider in Triage.  We found that having an ED provider (Physician, Physician Assistant, or Nurse Practitioner) evaluate all patients within 30 minutes of the patient’s arrival helps to reduce the total duration of the visit.  The Provider in Triage begins the clinical work-up immediately rather than waiting for the patient to be placed into an ED patient room. 

  • Although a patient may be waiting in the lobby, tests to aid in the provider’s evaluation of the patient are often already in progress.  Over the past 12 months, the average duration from patient arrival to patient evaluation by a provider was 33.4 minutes.  The median time was 14.4 minutes.

    • In conjunction with our Provider in Triage workflow, our team of registered nurses evaluate 100 percent of patients upon arrival, and over the past 12 months, the average duration of patient arrival to registered nurse evaluation was 15 minutes.  The median time was eight minutes.

  • Observation Unit.  An Observation Unit is available to serve adult patients who are admitted under observation status and have an expected hospital stay of less than 48 hours.

  • Patient Advocate.  A patient advocate is available in the ED on a 24/7 basis.

  • Alternatives to the ER for minor injuries and illnesses.  In the coming weeks, TRMC will relaunch an educational campaign on alternatives to the emergency department for minor injuries and illnesses, such as primary care clinics, convenient care centers, telehealth options, and more.  

Our team of medical professionals remain committed to compassionate care with a focus on total quality.  We thank our patients for the privilege of serving them, and appreciate the support of the community as we continue our ongoing journey of performance improvement.