Observation Units Save Time for Patients and Staff

May 13, 2018
Obs Unit Nurses

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.

As part of our flow and throughput initiative, an observation unit is being utilized to free up bed space for other patients.

Observation Unit

Some patients who visit our emergency department cannot be treated and released, nor do they need to be admitted to the Tower. Some patients need a temporary room where they can be treated and observed while they await testing and results.

On May 2, NHRMC opened a pilot project to care for these patients in an observation unit in the “Wrightsville” section of the Emergency Department. On the first day, the staff was able to treat 29 patients in 12 rooms over a span of 24 hours.

During their stay in the observation unit, patients are seen by case managers, social workers, nurses, and other clinical staff. Hospitalists participate in multidisciplinary care huddles every four hours, assessing the patients’ progress, and outlining discharge milestones and barriers to discharge.

This initiative helps improve the efficiency of care delivery leading to shorter length of stay, sparing inpatient beds for the ones who are anticipated to stay longer due to more complex medical conditions.

 “The observation unit is another step toward improving efficiency and improving patient flow and throughput,” said James Bryant, ED Administrator. “By not admitting these patients, we can help them get the testing and treatment they need in a shorter amount of time.”

NHRMC is currently working on building a permanent 14-bed observation unit. Construction is expected to be completed by the end of the year, allowing NHRMC to reopen the beds in “Wrightsville” for more traditional ED care.


Pictured: Melissa Hufham, case manager, and Heather Dusky, staff nurse, in the observation unit.