Patient flow and outstanding care working hand-in-hand

News / General
By Christine Maloney

Efforts through the emergency department to improve patient flow are having positive impacts on patients and staff

Patients who are cared for in the Admission Transfer Unit (ATU) after being admitted in the Emergency Department (ED) at Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) probably don’t know that since the unit opened two years ago, it has helped patients like them decrease the length of their stays in the ED by 30 per cent.

“We know helping people recover and return home as soon as possible is good for them and good for overall patient flow,” says Damiano Loricchio, Operations Manager for the ED. “But what we hear most from patients is that they are grateful for the compassionate, expert care they receive from the ATU care team while they wait for inpatient beds.”

The ATU has a unique physical design that “allows for good patient relations,” says Amanda Mutch, Registered Nurse. The 10 to 12 patient beds fan out around the nursing station in a semicircle, making it easy to connect and support patients, even when the unit is running at 101% capacity, as it has been recently.

The patient- and family-centred care received on this unit is often recognized through cards of thanks, which are warmly displayed in the unit’s patient care planning room. One patient sent a note expressing his gratitude and wrote, ‘each and every one of you is a credit to your profession.’

“The positive feedback we get from patients is great, so is the satisfaction we get from working on a unit that is contributing to the smooth and timely flow of patients,” says Mutch.

The ATU is one of the many ways KHSC is working on patient flow improvements. Since January, KHSC has also been sending patient referrals from the ED directly to the off-site Alternate Level of Care (ALC) Transitional Care Unit (TCU), operated by Bayshore HealthCare. This is helping reduce the time it takes for patients to receive the care they need in the right environment.

“The patient and caregiver experience is at the heart of the TCU program,” says Karen Fisher, Bayshore’s Director of Community Partnerships. “Bayshore and KHSC work in unison to ensure that patients have access to the information they need, along with the care and support required, to safely return home.”

In the 15 months that the ALC TCU has been running, it has freed up more than 4,300 days of hospital beds to provide the higher-level of care hospitals are equipped to deliver.

“Key initiatives are helping us guide patients to receive the right level of care in the right place, and behind these efforts is an incredible amount of teamwork within our organization and with our health care partners,” says Tom Hart, Director of Patient Access, Flow and Clinical Resources.

Exceptional teamwork is what Kelsey Hayes, Registered Nurse, says she appreciates the most about working on the ATU. “We care for a variety of patients, the environment is dynamic, and I always know I have a great team I can count on and trust.”

“I truly value how the ATU team works together, and I count on this collaboration to provide the best possible care and to influence the improvements we continue to make,” says Loricchio.