ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital has recently made changes in its emergency department in order to get patients in, seen by a doctor, and on their way faster than before.

“We want to provide excellent care to all patients that come to the emergency department,” said Dr. Daniel Riccardi, the medical director of emergency services at Sentara Martha Jefferson. “We find that by getting patients with less serious complaints through the department quicker we are able to provide that kind of care.”

Now, patients who are less sick will receive what is called “vertical care” and will remain in a chair instead of a hospital bed.

“A patient who has a small laceration or something like an ankle injury would fit this category,” noted Dr. Riccardi. “It’s for patients that need emergency care but don’t necessarily need to lie down in a bed during their visit.”

All patients are greeted when they arrive. Based on their symptoms, they are then assigned to the acute care, focused care or vertical care area of the ER.  By segmenting the populations, the group has been able to see patients and send them on their way nearly an hour faster than in the past.

“We’ve had some patients comment ‘wow, this is the fastest ER visit I’ve ever had,’” said Courtney Lambert, Sentara Martha Jefferson's emergency department nurse manager. “We like those comments, as that means we’re doing what we’re hoping to do. “

And, it’s all done without compromising quality. “You’ll still get great quality care. You’ll be seen by the same physicians and taken care of by the same nurses. It’s just that we’ve tweaked our process to make it better,” noted Lambert.

For more information on this topic, please call 1-800-SENTARA. If you have a question for a future Sentara Martha Jefferson Monday segment, email