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Editorial: New system improvement for hospital

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OF all the elements that go into the quality of life in any community, the health care provided to its residents would have to rank at the very top.

As the primary provider of that service in the Bartholomew County area, Columbus Regional Hospital can point to a number of positive signs that local residents are the direct beneficiaries of quality health care.

Many of those signs are anecdotal and based not so much on statistical findings or evaluations by independent agencies but simply on what patients think about the service they have been provided.

The hospital staff repeatedly has been cited by former patients and their families for the personal attention they received while at the hospital.

Typical of those evaluations was a short letter to the editor that appeared Friday in The Republic. Addressing the care he received while a patient at Columbus Regional Hospital, the writer observed that “the highest form of life on our planet is nurses.”

For those who wish more specific and fact-based assessments, there was an earlier story in The Republic that reported that the average length of stays for patients in the Columbus Regional hospital emergency room had been more than halved from a previous period earlier this summer.

There is something of a disclaimer to that achievement in that the earlier wait was the direct result of the transition to a new electronic records system introduced in June. In the first seven days of implementation of the electronic system, hospital officials reported waits for patients in the emergency room of between four and five hours.

By the week of June 24, it took an average of 4 hours and 13 minutes for the hospital to treat acute patients and 4 hours and 41 minutes to treat fast-track patients.

Since September, the average waits have been 2 hours and 24 minutes for acute patients and 1 hour and 57 minutes for fast-track patients.

The real measure of the success of the electronics records system, however, is the difference in times from before the system was introduced. The average waits posted since September are shorter than the pre-electronic system times for acute and fast track patients by 8 and 28 minutes, respectively.

Understandably, the extended wait times that resulted during the initial transition to a new electronic records system were frustrating for the patients and their families, but with acclimation to the system has come an improved quality in patient care.

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