Monday, May 26, 2014

Wayne Memorial Hospital Following Precedent of other Area Hospital Emergency Rooms

Jesup , GA - Beginning June 1, patients presenting at the Wayne Memorial Hospital Emergency Room (ER) may notice a slight change. While proper patient assessment and care will still continue to be offered as the top priority, the payment function for those services will be handled differently for non-emergency patients.

“We are the last hospital in the area to go to a pay-first emergency department, but we are being forced to do so because of all the non-emergency patients showing up in the ER,” says Hospital CEO Joe Ierardi.

While no patient with a medical emergency need will ever be turned away because of lack of payment, the hospital emphasizes that the Emergency Room exists to treat people who have an urgent care need. Currently, as many as 1/3 of Wayne Memorial’s ER patients appear with non-urgent medical situations, which unnecessarily tap hospital resources and slow response time for patients with true medical emergencies.
After assessment by a medical professional, a non-emergent patient will be provided with a plan of care and option to continue to receive care in the ER as well as information on doctors’ offices and medical clinics that may be able to offer treatment. If the patient chooses to continue care in the ER, the patient is provided an accompanying schedule of fees. Those with commercial insurance will pay the appropriate co-pay, Medicaid patients will pay $6, Medicare patients will pay $11 and self-pay patients (those with no coverage) will pay $125. Cash, credit and debit cards are acceptable forms of payment. 
In 2007, the hospital ER saw approximately 16,800 patients per year. In 2013, that number climbed to 28,000+. The patient load for the ER has escalated over the years, as many non-emergency patients travel as far as three counties away into Wayne County ’s hospital to receive “free” care in the ER. Those patients, who would be required to submit payment at a clinic or doctor’s office, may appear at the ER to receive a pregnancy test or pain medicine, adds Chief Nursing Officer Kathy Jern.
Chief Financial Officer Greg Jones shares that Wayne Memorial loses money each year out of its Emergency Room. Of the amount of bad debt that has to be written off each year, 55 percent of it derives from ER patients. Additionally, more than 86 percent of self-pay patients going through the ER do not pay for the service rendered.

The hospital’s 20 ER patient rooms are regularly filled by 11 a.m. each day, without relief until the early morning hours. Many of the patients could be seen at other medical facilities. This new policy should improve the care provided for the true medical emergencies.

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