When officials designed the new emergency room at Presbyterian Rust Medical Center, they turned to an auto manufacturer for some efficiency ideas.
Several years ago, Toyota developed a track system to increase its manufacturing flow and eliminate waste.
Hospital officials applied those tenets to the new emergency room at the facility on south Unser, which came on line this morning, just as the old emergency services room on NM 528 closed.
The result for the new emergency room is a tri-track system that should improve patient flow, hospital officials said.
Last year, the old emergency room saw more than 22,000 patients, according to Presbyterian spokeswoman Niki Craig. Projections for this year are for that to increase by about 10 percent, she said. Of those, only about 11 percent needed to be admitted to a hospital.
So the new procedures should help reduce patients' waiting time significantly, said Maryanne Morelos, emergency room nurse manager.
Within minutes of arriving at the emergency room, a patient should be seen for triage, she said.
"We want to cut triage time to less than five minutes," Morelos said.
The initial triage will determine whether to send a patient onto the acute track for serious issues, the lean-care track for less-serious patients that still need to be seen by a provider and a track in which a patient can be discharged to an urgent care center, or after scheduling an appointment, to see a provider later.
"The goal is for patients to be seen by a provider within 30 minutes," Morelos said. "That's not always going to happen, but that's the goal."
It also means that patients with serious issues will get seen quicker, she said.
And if the case flow is such that a second acute track needs to be opened, the resources are in place to do so, Morelos said.
Once patients are directed onto the correct track, there are additional measures to help speed patient flow, Morelos said.
A big key is an operation between services or transition room, where patients go after their initial visit with either a physician, physician's assistant or a registered nurse.
The transition room is where patients can receive IV drips, wait for medication to take effect or wait while lab results or X-rays are completed.
This then frees up an examination room for another patient, she said.
The new emergency department has 16 beds within the lean-care and acute-care tracks and an additional nine recliners in the transition room, whereas the old emergency room had 14 beds.
"We'll be able to keep the flow going really well," Morelos said.