CARES Moves to Main EU, Continues Rapid Access to Emergency Services
Doug Carlson, MD, explains the changes to the CARES unit.
Since 1993, St. Louis Children’s Hospital’s Center for After-Hours Referral Emergency Services (CARES) has provided community physicians and their patients with fast access to emergency care provided by a pediatric hospitalist. On December 1, the location of the CARES unit changed, but its goal of providing accelerated movement through the hospital’s emergency service did not.
“In recent years there has been a decline in the number of patients we see in the CARES unit, largely due to other community medical options. Foremost among these is the presence of Children’s Hospital emergency departments at Missouri Baptist Medical Center and Progress West Hospital,” says Douglas Carlson, MD, director of the CARES unit and of hospitalist medicine at SLCH. “With input and guidance from focus groups comprised of community physicians on our medical staff, we determined it would be more practical to see our CARES patients within our main emergency department.”
CARES patients continue to be pre-triaged for rapid access to emergency care provided by the hospital’s pediatric hospitalists. “The difference is that they now report to the main emergency department entrance, where the intake staff acknowledge that ‘We’ve been expecting them,’ and check them in as CARES patients,” says Dr. Carlson.
The CARES service remains available from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. daily and from noon to midnight on weekends. To make a referral to CARES, contact the Emergency Department Command Center at 314.454.6121. At the time of the referral, Command Center personnel will make note of any special instructions or requests physicians may have regarding their patients, and these will be accommodated whenever possible.
Emergency department fast track service designed to manage patient volume
Once the CARES service is established within the main emergency department, the CARES space will be used as a “fast track” overflow area that will help manage the volume of patients in the general emergency waiting room.
“Most pediatric emergency departments across the country have adopted a similar fast track model for lower-acuity patients needing quick evaluation and treatment,” says Dr. Carlson. “We believe adding this feature will allow us to see patients more quickly, reduce the number of patients who leave without being seen, and decompress the waiting area.”
He adds, “Regardless of their acuity, our CARES patients are cared for in our main Emergency Department, not in the fast track overflow space.”
Physicians with comments, suggestions or questions about the CARES and fast track services may contact a member of the CARES team through Children’s Direct, firstname.lastname@example.org or 800.678.HELP (4357).
“It is an honor to be trusted with the care of our community physicians’ patients, and it is a responsibility we do not take lightly,” says Dr. Carlson. “We believe the changes we are making will help us provide a superior experience for all of our patients, their families and their physicians.”