New HRRH Emergency Department Initiative Improves Patient Access to Physicians

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A small but dedicated team is making a big impact in the Emergency Department (ED) at Toronto’s Humber River Regional Hospital (HRRH).

Team at Triage (TAT) is a new initiative that is enhancing care and service, and increasing patient satisfaction by aiming to reduce the time that patients wait to be examined by a physician. The Team is comprised of an emergency physician, a registered nurse and a registered nurse practitioner who begin the initial assessment and treatment of patients in the triage area during peak hours in the ED.

“The major benefit of this program is that we are decreasing the physician initial assessment wait time for our patients,” said Dr. Rakesh Kumar, HRRH Chief of Emergency Services. “Since we began this program in June we’ve already seen tremendous results and our physician initial assessment wait time is decreasing. Instead of patients waiting an average of four hours, they are being examined by a physician in less than two hours,” noted Kumar. “We’ve also seen a reduction in the number of patients who leave without being seen and we’re encouraged by the positive feedback we’re receiving from our community.”

Kristal Hall is one of many Humber River ED patients who is pleased with the care and service she received from the TAT Team.

“I arrived with discomfort in my upper rib, chest pain, a bloated stomach and I was also short of breath,” said the 26-year-old receptionist and mother of two during her visit to Humber River’s ED in July. “Within two hours I was not only in the triage examination area but I had already been sent for blood work and had an ultrasound. Everything happened really quickly.”

The HRRH TAT Program is the first of its kind in the Toronto area. And while Kumar and his team are the dedicated driving force behind the development of the Team, funding from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) is what made this program a “reality,” admitted Kumar.

“We are thankful to the MOHLTC for supporting this important initiative under their Emergency Department Alternate Level of Care Wait Time Strategy Program,” said Kumar. “Having the TAT Program greatly improves our patients’ experience and providing our patients and their families with quality care and service is our number one priority, he added. “While we understand this is ‘one-time’ funding from the MOH, we are hopeful that they will continue to support this initiative in the same way they’ve supported other initiatives we’ve undertaken in the past.”

Even though HRRH requires funding to continue with the TAT Program next year, that’s not stopping Kumar and his team from refining the Program and setting goals for the future.

“In the short term we’re achieving our goals by reducing the wait times and increasing patient satisfaction. In the long term, we want to develop tools to measure patient satisfaction and expand TAT so that we’re even more efficient in delivering care to our patients and community.”