Southwest Regional, UPMC Partner to Enhance Emergency Care

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From left: Michael Onusko, Director of Emergency and Outpatient Services, Richard Heath, MD, Assistant Chief Medical Officer for ERMI; Linnie Willson, RN; Jammie Gencel, ER Tech; Michele Nicholson, RN discuss the patient flow process.

Southwest Regional Medical Center recently announced an agreement to partner with Emergency Resource Management Inc. (ERMI).  ERMI, part of UPMC, is one of the largest employers of emergency medicine physicians in Pennsylvania.  As of Dec. 1, all emergency room physicians and mid-level providers at Southwest Regional will be provided by ERMI.

Altogether, ERMI serves approximately 475,000 patients each year. As an affiliate of UPMC, ERMI provides access to invaluable resources, quality, expertise and stability. With a national shortage of emergency physicians, many community-based hospitals are looking to the economies of scale offered by management partners such as ERMI.

“Partnering with ERMI offers residents of the region access to highly skilled UPMC physicians right in their own back yard,” said Cindy Cowie, Chief Executive Officer for Southwest Regional Medical Center.  “This relationship will provide us with long-term stability in the department.”

The relationship will provide physician coverage 24 hours a day, 365 days per year.  Mid-level providers, such as a Physician Assistant or Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner, will be available 20 hours per day, 365 days per year.

“This level of staffing will allow us to continue the quality and speed of service our community has come to expect over the past several years,” said Mike Onusko, director of outpatient and emergency services.  “We are prepared to continue with our Waiting (Less) Room 30 minute guarantee program, which we implemented nearly 2 years ago.”

The Waiting (Less) Room 30 minute guarantee began in March 2010 and guarantees patients will be seen by a healthcare professional within 30 minutes.  The program was implemented with great success with a short suspension in recent months due to the loss of two full-time emergency physicians.

“We have met some challenges in recent months, which have slowed our process slightly,” continued Onusko.  “We are confident that we will be able to provide the quality and speed of service our patients deserve and expect.”

The agreement also allows for the addition of a medical director who will oversee the medical services provided.  Paul Beck, M.D., will serve as interim medical director beginning Jan. 1, 2012.

“We are proud to add Southwest Regional Medical Center as a new partner and believe this relationship will enhance the consistency, quality and speed of care provided to the residents of this community,” said Richard Heath, M.D., Assistant Chief Medical Officer  for ERMI.

The emergency department at Southwest Regional Medical Center treats over 24,000 patients each year.  The emergency department has eight treatment rooms with immediate access to laboratory testing and diagnostic services, which range from x-ray to CT exams. Many patients with conditions serious enough to require admission are able to receive care at Southwest Regional. The inpatient services consist of 31 medical/surgical beds, five Intensive Care Unit beds, a 15-bed Surgical Care Unit and 26 behavioral health beds.

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