by Mary Jagim, MSN, RN, CEN, FAEN | CNO at Infinite Leap
I am an emergency nurse. Although my role now as the Chief Nursing Officer of Infinite Leap encompasses all aspects of healthcare, the knowledge and skills I gained during over 20 years in the emergency department continue to guide me in my daily work. The emergency department has a unique role in the healthcare ecosystem, with one foot in the community and one foot in the hospital. When issues such as the opioid epidemic, increasing gun violence, rising number of uninsured patients, lack of behavioral health services, and limited access to healthcare become pervasive in our communities, the impact is felt in the flow of patients into the emergency department. When hospitals are challenged with staffing shortages, capacity constraints, heavily booked surgical schedules, and the lack of inpatient psychiatric beds or behavioral health services, emergency departments are unable to transfer patients out of the emergency department, leading to boarding and long wait times. As the only place in healthcare where care is mandated in the form of initial medical screening and stabilization, the emergency department serves as the safety net of the community, the access point to the hospital, and the epicenter when systems fail.
As an emergency nurse I also learned the critical importance of all hospital services, including security, environmental services, transport, imaging, pharmacy, cath lab, surgical services, clinical engineering, and central supply – just to name a few. Their ability to support the emergency department in meeting the demand for services directly impacts the flow of patients through all phases of care.
Understanding the interconnectedness of healthcare is critical to optimizing ambulatory and hospital operations while supporting the flow of patients in and out of the emergency department.
• Improving the patient flow process in ambulatory care increases capacity and provides new access points of care.
• Helping central supply to efficiently identify dirty pumps so they can be quickly collected, cleaned, and redeployed assures that patients are not delayed in receiving critical IV fluids and medications.
• Alerting the transport team when the number of stretchers in the ED has dropped below the required level and to easily locate stretchers to re-supply keeps the ED in a state of readiness for the next patient.
• Providing automated and customized notifications to emergency department patients and families helps them feel more informed and not forgotten.
• And providing the tools for an emergency nurse to notify security when they are being threatened by a patient keeps them safe from harm.
I and my emergency nurse colleagues, Deb Esse and Tim Johnson, work every day with the rest of our team at Infinite Leap to optimize the patient and staff experience through the use of real time technologies. We understand the challenges of healthcare delivery and we want to support healthcare teams in their mission to care.
As we celebrate Emergency Nurses Week, on behalf of Infinite Leap I want to thank all emergency nurses for your service in one of the most challenging environments in healthcare. Know that you make a difference every day in the lives of your patients and their families.