WAILUKU – Maui Memorial Medical Center’s (MMMC) emergency room, or ER, treated over 45,000 patients in 2014 – a 3.37 percent increase over 2013 and a 25 percent increase over the past five years.
The increase has resulted in longer wait times and shortage of available beds for admitted patients, a problem many other hospitals across the state, and nation, are facing.
In recent weeks, the increase in emergency department (ED) admissions mirrors other hospitals in the state with increased influenza cases. According to Ramona Chapman, RN, Infection Prevention and Control Coordinator at MMMC, there have been 50 confirmed influenza cases from January 1 through 23, 2015, compared to 27 for the entire month of December 2014.
In response to the influx of patients seeking emergency care, MMMC is evaluating ED best practices to improve treatment flow and wait times. Additionally, officials encourage Maui residents and visitors to seek medical attention or advice from their primary care physicians during normal business hours at the onset of worrisome 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.
Hospital officials also remind public that whether the ED is busy or not, the intake process puts priority on medical need versus a first-come, first-serve basis.
“It is our responsibility to serve based on need. 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,” Montehermoso said. “The majority of U.S. 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 is Maui’s only full-service, acute medical care facility. Located in central Maui in Wailuku, the center has 1,500 employees and is licensed for 213 acute care beds, and provides comprehensive healthcare for Maui County, including Lanai and Molokai. MMMC is the fourth largest hospital in the state and the only hospital outside of Oahu also providing comprehensive cardiac services, including open-heart surgery and angioplasty. For more information about MMMC, visit www.mauimemorialmedical.org<http://www.mauimemorialmedical.org/>.