Discharge Changes Designed to Help with Patient Flow

May 13, 2018

In our growing region of North Carolina, more patients are choosing NHRMC for their medical care. Because so many are seeking care at NHRMC, we have developed a plan to make sure that our patient beds are being optimized.

NHRMC has implemented several initiatives to improve patient flow and throughput, and some of them involve streamlining the discharge process for certain patients. This serves two primary purposes – maintaining the quality of care while freeing up bed space, and reducing the time to exit once their transportation arrives.

Discharge Lounge

As part of our ongoing commitment to improving patient flow and throughput, NHRMC has redesigned the Discharge Lounge. The Discharge Lounge was implemented in 2017 as a way to move discharged patients to make room for incoming patients who need the rooms. The ideal patient is one who is fully discharged but waiting on a ride home. The Discharge Lounge also provides convenience for the patients, who are in the lounge ready to go when their transportation arrives.

The redesign includes two sections – one corner will offer TV and entertainment, the other will be a reflective, quiet space. Both sections will be staffed by a CNA and a volunteer from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

In the short-term, floors 2, 5, and 9 will focus on identifying patients who qualify for the Discharge Lounge. The goal is to average 10 patients per day to participate in the pilot. The team will monitor average time spent by patients in the lounge. 

“The Discharge Lounge is just one of the initiatives designed to help us continually improve our patient flow,” said Amy Akers, Vice President of Patient Services. “When a discharged patient can rest comfortably in a lounge, our EVS team can start cleaning and begin turning over the room. Every time a patient room opens up two or three hours earlier than normal, that means the next patient gets treated in the best possible environment two or three hours sooner. That cycle of improvement is important to our patients and their families.”

Skilled Nursing Facility Transition Area

In early March, a second space was identified between the Patient Discharge Lounge and the Gift Shop and is being used for patients awaiting transport to a skilled nursing facility/assisted living facility, home or the Orthopedic Hospital.

The patients identified for this transitional space must be scheduled for transport within eight hours and cannot be a hospice patient or an isolation patient. They are cared for by a nurse and a CNA.

Since the beginning of this trial, the area has seen up to 18 patients in a single day. Transporting the patients that meet the criteria for this area frees up rooms in the Tower for more patients and improves efficiency for transport teams, who do not have to wait on elevator traffic.