Hospital continues to improve patient care with opening of new CDU

A hospital trend that’s sweeping the nation has found itself taking residence at Peterson Regional Medical Center in an effort to clear emergency rooms and provide better care for patients.

Clinical Decision Units, or CDUs, are units designated to taking in patients without admitting them to the hospital directly or leaving them in the emergency room for what could be hours on end, said Amber Bond, director of the new unit.

“This is something hospitals across the nation are doing,” Bond said. “We’re pretty lucky that Peterson is able to do this.”

This unit is something usually bigger hospitals do, but the need was big enough that leadership felt good about moving forward with in, Bond said.

But a patient can only be go into the CDU for one of 12 symptoms, which include an allergic reaction, chest pain, dehydration, a headache or a migraine.

It does not include people with an alcohol dependence or withdrawal, drug dependence or a wide range of other symptoms.

This will be a way for the permanent hospitalist to provide a more standardized care for the patient in an efficient manner, Bond said.

The reason why there are specific symptoms is so physicians or hospitalists who permanently patrol the space will be able to better manage those symptoms in order to get them out the door faster, she noted.

After going through the necessary diagnostic tests, medications and therapies, physicians will then be able to make the decision to admit the patient to the hospital or discharge them within one day.

“These patients will immediately come up, so that will help with beds and open the (emergency room) up for emergencies,” Bond said. “Before the observation unit opened, our average length of stay was about 30-36 hours for those people. Our goal is to decrease that to less than 24 hours.”

The new unit took more than a year to create at PRMC, said Lisa Winters, Peterson’s public relations specialist.

It went from a concept to planning with several different departments to actually becoming a reality. The new unit officially opened May 1.

“Fortunately we didn’t have to do any construction, because we had everything ready to go,” Winters said.

The unit has eight beds and has already seen heavy usage during its opening week.

Within that time, Bond said they were able to get all of their observation patients out within a 24-hour timeframe.

“Now that we know there’s a need, it helps us better standardize those patients’ treatments,” Bond said.

As for insurance coverage, Bond said that determination would be up to an individual’s insurance provider, but she did say that it would be cheaper than being admitted into the hospital for inpatient care.