Emergency Room Visits Exceed Record Levels at MMMC
By Maui Now Staff
Maui Memorial Medical Center’s emergency rooms treated over 45,000 patients in 2014–a 3.37 percent increase over 2013 and a 25 percent increase over the past five years.
Due to the increase, emergency room patients are experiencing longer wait times and a shortage of available beds for admitted patients.
Patients are experiencing the same problems in many other hospitals across the state and the nation.
The recent increase in emergency room admissions mirrors other hospitals in the state with increased influenza cases. There have been 50 confirmed influenza cases from Jan.1 through 23, 2015, compared to 27 for the entire month of December 2014, according to Ramona Chapman, RN, infection prevention and control coordinator at MMMC.
In response to the influx, MMMC is evaluating its emergency department’s best practices to improve treatment flow and wait times.
Officials are also encouraging Maui residents and visitors to seek medical attention or advice from primary care physicians during normal business hours at the onset of symptoms.
“While we are absolutely not discouraging people from seeking medical help at our emergency department, statistically speaking, we do see a lot of patients that either did not require immediate attention, could have been safely cared for in a primary care setting, or could have avoided the ED visit with proper and timely primary care,” said Julius Montehermoso, MMMC ED nurse manager.
MMMC officials also remind public that the patient intake process always prioritized medical need versus a first-come, first-serve basis.
“It is our responsibility to serve based on need,” Montehermoso said. “We use an emergency severity index, or ESI, which helps determine severity of condition, what kind of care the patient needs and how long they can wait for treatment. The majority of US hospitals use it.”
“It is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your life,” said Montehermoso. “But we do believe that taking care of your health in a timely manner, and not waiting until you feel the ED is your only option, is better for you all around.”
Maui Memorial Medical Center, Maui County’s only full-service, acute medical care facility, has 1,500 employees and is licensed for 213 acute care beds.
For more information about MMMC, visit www.mauimemorialmedical.org.