A program in Charlottesville is streamlining the emergency room wait. Those who need medical care can now get help more quickly at Martha Jefferson Hospital.
People who go to the emergency room at MJH with less-severe injuries can now see a nurse practitioner instead of waiting in line for a doctor.
In the first few months of the program, the medical team says it's been very successful. The program is a partnership between the Martha Jefferson emergency department and Sentara.
They've opened up what's called an "ED Direct" unit that offers minor emergency care. It's coordinated and manned by nurse practitioners with the support of physicians.
The nurse practitioners have advanced nursing degrees and are able to do many of the same services as doctors like diagnose patients, devise a plan of care, and even prescribe medications. Once the nurse practitioner finishes with each patient, the doctor sees them and gives the OK.
"This has been a great asset for us in seeing patients on a faster paced level for patients who are coming in with just a laceration, a fish hook removal, broken ankle, and we're able to take care of them,” said Cawood Fitzhugh-Bowman, primary care nurse practitioner at Martha Jefferson Hospital.
The goal is to evaluate and treat patients within 90 minutes.
Other hospitals in the area are also using nurse practitioners to provide patients with better access to care. UVA Health System launched a "care team model" last summer that matches one physician with three nurse practitioners for a group of patients.
MJH Successfully Cutting ER Wait Times for Patients with Minor InjuriesMore>>