Rural Kansans get improved ER

GARDEN CITY, Kan. — Saint Catherine Hospital is a medical hub for people in Southwest Kansas and surrounding areas.

With 17,000 people through their emergency department last year from Kansas, Oklahoma and Colorado, they have started expanding.

“It’s an entire critical care system that we want to be able to expand so we can continue to meet the growing needs of Western Kansas,” said St. Catherine CEO and President Scott Taylor.

With a lack of walk-in clinics in much of rural Kansas, about 70% of the ER’s patients are non-critical.

“We want to be able to see all those patients in a timely and effective manner,” Taylor said.

Their first step in the makeover was to create a Fast Track, which has cut down on average wait time significantly.  When a patient walks into the emergency department they’re seen in about six minutes.  If they’re determined to be non-critical they’re in a Fast Track exam room within 15 minutes, making their total time at the hospital well under two hours, and that’s below the national average.

“I was speaking to a woman and I think their child needed stitches and she said, ‘we were in and out in an hour!'” said Margie Prewitt, the VP of Patient Services and Head Nurse at St. Catherine.

“We’ve cut down a lot on time,” said ER Nurse Supervisor Dora Leon, “it makes people feel good, cause if you’re not feeling well you don’t want to sit in a waiting room for a couple of hours.”

The eight room Fast Track department was just the first step.  The hospital has six million dollars worth of renovating to go.  They plan on revamping all the ER exam rooms, adding more ICU beds, and moving the heli-pad to the roof so they can expand they’re busy parking lot.

“People from outside of Finney County are accessing us here at St. Catherine and I think it’s just going to continue to grow,” Prewitt said.

The hospital and the Chamber of Commerce celebrated the success of the Fast Track opening with a Ribbon Cutting ceremony on Friday.

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