City, county, school and health officials discuss the changes coming to Olympic Medical Center in the coming years. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

City, county, school and health officials discuss the changes coming to Olympic Medical Center in the coming years. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

OMC aims to cut ER wait times, make other improvements

PORT ANGELES — Olympic Medical Center officials plan to reduce wait times in the hospital’s Emergency Department, expand hours at the walk-in clinic and add more than a dozen inpatient beds.

CEO Eric Lewis told community leaders on Thursday during a round table discussion involving city, county, school and health care officials.

“There’s a lot of exciting things we’re going to do in the Emergency Department and you will see a difference,” Lewis said.

Lewis said that currently the median wait time at the Emergency Department is 202 minutes, which he hopes to reduce to 160 minutes by expanding hours at the walk-in clinic and improving efficiency throughout the hospital.

Currently the walk-in clinic is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and those limited hours have led to people who need same-day care seeking it at the Emergency Department.

“If you need care today and it’s 7 p.m., the Emergency Department is your only option, or leaving the county,” Lewis said. “What we’re trying to do is create more options for people to be at the right setting and get their care on a more timely basis.”

He said that sometime next year the walk-in clinic will be re-branded “Immediate Care.” It’s hours are expected to be from 7 a.m. to about 10 p.m. or 11 p.m., he said.

By expanding those hours, the hope is that fewer people will need to go to the Emergency Department.

“It will help the lowest acuity people have access and that frees up resources in the Emergency Department to deal with the sicker patients,” he said.

He said there are opportunities for “process improvement” throughout the hospital that also will free up resources, including streamlining processes to get people into inpatient units faster.

That will allow the Emergency Department to focus on outpatient needs, he said.

More beds

Over the next couple of years, hospital officials want to expand from 67 beds to about 80 beds, moving some administrative positions out of the building to make room for the extra beds.

Lewis said that it is rare that the hospital fills all 67 beds, but it is not unusual for all beds of a specific type to be filled. The hospital has beds for obstetrics, medical-surgical, intensive care and intermediate care.

Olympic Medical Center CEO Eric Lewis discusses changes at the hospital that are expected to decrease wait times at the Emergency Department. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Olympic Medical Center CEO Eric Lewis discusses changes at the hospital that are expected to decrease wait times at the Emergency Department. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

“We need more inpatient beds and we need different types of beds,” he said. “As we look at the next decade forward I think we want to add inpatient hospice beds.”

He said the first expansion likely will come in 2021. The first phase includes eliminating the four double rooms, giving each patient a private room.

The first expansion will be up to 72 beds.

After that, the hospital will expand up to 80 beds, he said.

Lewis said what has contributed to the increased focus on the Port Angeles campus is new rules from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid that limits Medicare reimbursements at clinics more than 250 yards from the hospital.

He said the hospital had planned $15 million in construction for the Sequim campus, but has since reduced that to $5 million and shifted focus to the main campus in Port Angeles.

“If we can win our lawsuit or the law changes, we’ll pivot back to Sequim,” he said.

Lewis said Olympic Medical Center needs to increase capacity for surgical services. Currently the hospital has four operating rooms, one C-section room and two endoscopy rooms, he said.

He would like to see that increase to six operating rooms, two C-section rooms and three endoscopy rooms.

“We would need a few more surgeons and a few more gastroenterologists, but the demand is there for sure,” he said.

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at jmajor@peninsula dailynews.com.

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