Sunday, December 12, 2010

University of Chicago ER turns away ambulances

I just hope these aren't emergencies that they're turning away. Although even if they were there are other hospitals in that general area they can go. There's Jackson Park near 75th and Stony Island. There's also Provident on 51st Street.

As University of Chicago Medical Center struggles to unclog its emergency department, one statistic keeps pushing back. Because of overcrowding — a growing, nationwide problem — the hospital turns away ambulances more often than any other ER in Illinois.

The city’s premier South Side hospital turns away ambulances for 13 minutes, on average, each hour. No other hospital comes close, according to Illinois Department of Public Health numbers obtained by the Associated Press.

In addition, some ER patients wait more than 24 hours for a hospital bed to open upstairs in the hospital.
...
A UCMC task force is quietly addressing ER crowding with some success, two years after the facility weathered a public relations nightmare involving an initiative to find community doctors for patients who use the ER for basic care. But other hospitals’ closures and a shortage of primary care in the impoverished area mean nearly 70,000 patients a year still arrive at the ER seeking help.

The nonprofit academic medical center has struggled with emergency room crowding for years. Many at the hospital see the stubborn situation as a symptom of a health care system that leaves many poor people without care and appoints emergency rooms as the one place that can’t turn anyone away — a problem that may only get worse at other hospitals in years to come.

“It’s really a manifestation of what’s going on with health care in our country more broadly,” said Dr. David Howes, the hospital’s emergency medicine section chief, in an interview. “We are not alone and we are doing our very best to address this.”

Crowding is a widespread national issue. Patients across the country are experiencing the longest wait times in ERs since reports were first made available in 2002, according to Press Ganey Associates Inc., a health care consulting company. Many experts predict the problem will get worse after the new national health overhaul expands insurance to 32 million more Americans.
I don't really want to copy and paste the whole article here so read the whole thing. Also if only there was a way to open up clinics near these hospitals where people can get basic care. If most of the people can't afford to pay a doctor then hopefully these are non-profits where people can still see a doctor. And without having to visit an actual emergency room.

It's noted no other hospital comes close to the "bypasses" (read article for more info on that term), that the University of Chicago does. The medical center is in Hyde Park and that neighborhood is surrounded by less than affluent neigborhoods on all sides although there has been some redevelopment in those areas in recent years. It may have slowed due to the economy.

And this article even alludes to the fact that because of healthcare reform (or if you prefer the term Obamacare) it may get worse. So this is a problem that needs a resolution either from the Feds or from the states and it seems there isn't a lot of stomach to really get to the solution of this problem at either level.

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