Wednesday, March 15, 2006
On September 26, 2001, I worked the 3-11 shift in the ER at OSF. I had elderly patients as usual and several signed out and went home when they realized how long they were going to wait for a bed in the hospital. They were sick, and I intended to admit them, but they just couldn’t take lying on a stretcher for many hours and so politely told me that they “needed to go home”.
The ER has an administrator on call every night to call at home if there are problems an attending physician in the ER would want to discuss. These calls usually did not help at the time the call was made.
On September 27, 2001 I decided that Keith Steffen, CEO at OSF-SFMC, should at least know of my concerns and wrote him a letter and copied it to all of my colleagues in the ER and to other OSF administrators. (See letter below.) Someone warned me that I might get fired if I sent the letter. I knew that to be true, but thought it needed to be done.
I did not hear back from Keith but did hear the next day from Dr. George Hevesy who had been promoted to ER director on August 1 to replace Dr. Rick Miller. His secretary handed me his letter to me as I was starting to resuscitate a man in the ER who had a cardiac arrest and was brought in by ambulance.
George’s letter put me on probabation for 6 months. It also stated that starting in November, I would only work in OSF Prompt Care. Hevesy did not disagree with the content of my letter but told me that I had gone around normal communication channels and that I would be suspended from the ED for 6 months. After I read the letter, I called George at OSF’s new Center for Health where he was working and asked him if he was really serious about what he had written. He said that he was and for me to stop in and see him sometime so we could talk.
September 27, 2001
Keith Steffen, Administrator
OSF Saint Francis Medical Center
Peoria, Illinois 61637
I started working at OSF-SFMC in 1971 as an orderly on 8B. Most of my last 30 years have been spent inside this building. OSF-SFMC means everything to me. Please interpret the following knowing my heart and spirit are with St. Francis and always will be.
I worked 3-11 last night in the main ER. The ER mayhem and disarray that usually exists was actually somewhat manageable. However, patient-waiting time from disposition to arrival on the floor was unbearable. Two sick patients of mine, rather than staying in the ER all night, politely decided to sign out, go home, and hope for the best.
Giving appropriate care in the ER can be challenging but having no room upstairs to admit the patient can be life threatening to the patient. Should I call other medical centers around the area/state for their admission and subsequent care before I see the patient or after? Studies have shown increasing time spent in the ER increases patient morbidity. Obviously, I don't want to do this. Please tell me what to do.
An ER crisis has been occurring for many years in our ER. But last night with "home diversion" of patients we have reached an all time low. This cannot continue.
I need an immediate answer from you today as to how I should approach these sick patients and their families. I will meet with you any time today or tonight.
My pager is always on (679-1980.)
John A. Carroll, MD
cc: Sue Wozniak, Chief Operating Officer
Tim Miller, MD, Director of Medical Affairs
Susan Ehlers, Assistant Admimstrator Patient Care Delivery Systems
Paul Kramer, Executive Director of Children's Hospital of Illinois .
Lynn Gillespie, Assistant Administrator Organizational Development
Emergency Department Attendings
On April 6, 2006 the Peoria Journal Star published the article below regarding the new Children's Hospital that will be built. Please note Mr. Steffen's comments regarding bed capacity problems and patient diversion at OSF. Was this institutional neglect by OSF attempting to stack to many patients inside the medical center? How many people suffered under this system? When I wrote him almost five years earlier, I was immediately placed on probation and then fired three months later. Will that be Mr. Steffen's fate as well?
What the Journal Star did not report was that Jackson Jean-Baptiste, a Haitian Hearts patient, was refused care at OSF and died several months ago. Many Haitian Hearts patients are now suffering and being denied care at OSF. This is contrary to what Catholic social teaching states and the Catholic Bishops Ethical and Religious Directives mandate.
Haitian Hearts obviously did not financially break OSF with the announcement of their new 200 million dollar building. It is truly a blessing for central Illinois children. However, Haitian children deserve the best available as well.
Until OSF can change its heart and return to the founding Sisters mission philosophy, they will have the technolgy but not the touch. The picture is of a Haitian baby where I work in Haiti. This hospital has no running water...a bit different than OSF-CHOI.
A medical milestone
Saint Francis expansion will alter Downtown landscape
Thursday, April 6, 2006
BY DAYNA R. BROWN
OF THE JOURNAL STAR
An eight-story, concrete and glass addition to OSF Saint Francis Medical
Center will permanently enhance Peoria's medical skyline - and the area's
economy. This new facility will be home to the Children's Hospital of Illinois and
is the largest building construction project in Peoria history.
"It's unusual for a community of this size to have its own children's
hospital," said pediatrician Dr. Rodney Lorenz, who also is interim dean at
Peoria's medical school. "We are blessed."
The new building will be located north of the hospital's main facility. It
will sit on the site of Medi-Park 1, which will be torn down when a new $33
million parking deck is completed later this year.
Construction is difficult on the site because it slopes 60 feet from top to
bottom. But it was the only area on the hospital's 33-acre campus where
there was enough room for this facility, administrators said. The
Children's Hospital wanted to stay on the Downtown campus because there is
$45 million in annual savings by sharing services with St. Francis.
The expansion is needed because the hospital is out of space,
St. Francis had to divert patients to other hospitals Wednesday, and it has
been that way much of the past month because there aren't enough beds, CEO
Keith Steffen said. Just last year, more than 200 patients had to be sent
to other locations.
But when the $234 million construction project is completed, that no longer
will be a problem, Steffen said.
"We've seen significant growth over the past few years," Steffen
said. "We'd be remise . . . if we didn't respond."
The new building will be 440,000 square feet, almost twice the size of the
hospital's Gerlach Building, which houses surgery, the emergency
department, most of medical imaging and five intensive care units.
It will allow for the consolidation of all of the Children's Hospital
services, which are currently located in six buildings, and provide all
pediatric patients private rooms.
"Right now it is hard for people to find the Children's Hospital because
it's buried in St. Francis," said Dr. Rick Pearl, surgeon-in-chief of
Children's Hospital. "I just run in circles, all day long."
The new facility, which will be physically attached to St. Francis but will
have its own entrance, will bring the hospitals staffed beds from 560 to
616. It will have three floors dedicated solely to children. Another three
floors will have shared services for adults and children, including surgery
rooms and the emergency department.
The decor will be "kid-friendly," with bright colors, play areas, music and
favorite children's characters, doctors said. And the rooms will provide
space for parents to stay with their child.
"I think it's very important for a child to feel comfortable," said Dr.
Ravindra Vegunta, director of pediatric minimally invasive surgery at
Children's Hospital. "The more happy the patient, the more cooperative a
patient and that will aid in recovery."
There will be one adult cardiac floor in the new building because more
space was needed for that department, administrators said.
Moving the pediatric services out of the current facility will free up
needed space for adult patients and other hospital needs, administrators
The project also will include a "much needed" emergency department
expansion. The current emergency room was constructed to serve 32,000
patients annually, but this year it will surpass 62,000, Steffen said.
St. Francis is the largest hospital in downstate Illinois, employing
approximately 5,200 people, and the only Level 1 trauma center in the area.
In addition to 850 construction jobs, the project will create a need for
another 1,000 jobs related to health care.
Children's Hospital of Illinois was formed in January 1990, and draws from
a 30-county area. Annually, it admits about 5,000 children and treats
Areas hospitals - including Methodist Medical Center, Proctor Hospital and
Pekin Hospital - have given support for the project, Steffen said.
If the plans are approved by the state, which is required, construction
will begin in spring 2007, with a completion date of 2009. Hospital
officials plan to file for state approval by the end of the month, and said
they believe they will be approved.
"We are in the business of patient care," Steffen said. "This project
says . . . we are going to do it more efficiently, more effectively, more
Dayna R. Brown can be reached at 686-3194 or email@example.com.
The Journal Star then offered this editorial--
Monday, April 10, 2006
When Keith Steffen, OSF Saint Francis Medical Center CEO, got to work Wednesday morning, he was greeted with familiar news: the intensive care unit was full. Because of overcrowding, St. Francis annually diverts 200 patients to other hospitals, 100 of them children. That space crunch is precisely why Steffen would announce later in the day a $234 million expansion of St. Francis. The largest medical center in downstate Illinois isn't big enough.
The single biggest private building project in Peoria's history, if approved by state regulators, will shoehorn an eight-story building onto the Downtown campus and position St. Francis to meet the medical needs of central Illinois and beyond for the next 25 years. Once the so-called Milestone Project is done, St. Francis will have three new floors for the Children's Hospital of Illinois, three more for diagnostic services and surgery, one for adult cardiac patients and a new and bigger emergency room.
With the expansion, all of the hospital's 616 rooms - it has 560 now - will be private, which has health and customer satisfaction advantages. New surgery rooms will be large enough to accommodate robotics and other technology, some $47 million worth. A larger ER will no longer have to operate at twice capacity.
Simply put, the 440,000-square-foot addition - twice the size of the Gerlach Building that spans Glen Oak Avenue - will make St. Francis more competitive in a changing marketplace. Rural hospitals are referring more patients to Peoria than ever before. Some 35 percent of St. Francis' customers come from outside the Tri-County. One of the biggest growth areas is pediatric care, especially for high-risk infants.
OSF officials say the added efficiency will help keep a lid on inflation-shattering medical costs. The Children's Hospital, for example, is spread across six buildings. Now make that one. Administrative offices scattered across the city also will come under one roof after construction is completed in 2009.
This project benefits more than just St. Francis. First, it will create 850 construction jobs and up to 1,000 more permanent ones, including 300 more nurses and technicians. Second, it anchors Peoria's medical community Downtown for as far as the eye can see. When St. Francis built its Center for Health on Route 91 five years ago, there was a fear the hospital might eventually move north. No more. Between this project, OSF's $33 million parking deck now under construction and Peoria Surgical Group moving to the medical school campus, private medical investment Downtown will approach $300 million. What a boost for Renaissance Park.
This also will create a new front door for St. Francis off a rebuilt Interstate 74. Anything that makes it easier to navigate this labyrinth of a hospital is a plus. Finally, this expansion was endorsed by Methodist and Proctor hospitals. Hallelujah. Doesn't happen enough.
There will be naysayers. Indeed, it's a lot of money to add fewer than 50 patient rooms. Then there is the question of need. The Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board initially refused to approve the Center for Health on that basis. Ultimately jam-packed surgery rooms and full intensive care beds showed the flaws in that analysis. It's hard to imagine state regulators not looking favorably on this request.
Finally, after many years, it was stated that the ER at OSF was operating at twice its capacity. Even Mr. Steffen stated that they would be "remiss" if changes weren't made. OSF has been "remiss" for many years now regarding excessive patients in the ER and inadequate bed capacity in the main house.
In the April, 2006 issue of Academic Emergency Medicine an article regarding overcrowding in the emergency department describes the problem very clearly. The journal reports, "The phenomenon of emergency department crowding has become recognized across the globe as a serious public health threat. ...experts widely agree that crowding in the emergency department (ED) is a system-wide problem, not one that results solely from problems in the ED or one that can be addressed using only ED based solutions. Crowding has become a shared burden for emergency providers. Each of us has a collection of stories to tell about how crowding has affected our patients, their families, our cowokers, and our own professional satisfaction."
June 16, 2006
Emergency System Called Very Ill
On June 15, 2006, USA TODAY had the above headline over an article on their front page.
The nation’s emergency medical system is in a dangerous state of crisis, says a new series of landmark reports. The Institute of Medicine recently released extensive reports which were prepared by a 40-member board after a two-year investigation. The IOM report states that the U.S. life saving system is failing.
The IOM reports detail how hundreds of thousands of lives are affected every year by EMS deficiencies that are not obvious. The chair of the panel, Gail Warden, stated that “in most communities, there is a crisis under the surface.”
Many emergency rooms barely can handle their daily patient loads, children don’t always get good care, and the quality of rescue services is erratic, the report says. A USA TODAY probe found a 10-fold difference between major cities in cardiac arrest survival rates.
Dr. Arthur Kellermann, director of the Center for Injury Control at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta stated that the problem with hospital bed capacity slows the emergency department admission of sick patients and more patients are diverted to other hospitals. In every minute of every day, an ambulance carrying a patient is turned away “diverted” when an emergency room says it is too full to take patients.
This sounds very much like OSF in Peoria. Throughout this website, I have questioned the monopoly of paramedic transport care in Peoria. The IOM report mentions, crowding and ambulance diversion also occur because of lack of coordination among emergency medical response teams and hospitals…as well as entrenched professional interests. With regards to Peoria, I would say the “entrenched professional interests” are centered around the medical centers and their relationship with Advanced Medical Transport.
There is a “crisis under the surface” in Peoria that will eventually become apparent.
Emergency Medical News
In 2006 there were 119.2 million ED visits in the United States.
Dr. Arthur Kellerman agreed that it was easy to blame the problems of crowding on the uninsured. "It gives the decision-makers an excuse to ignore it or blame an unempowered segment of society. These aren't contributing to the growth of emergency department visits," he said. "We know the major problem in crowding is the boarding of patients."
Dr. Peter Viccellio commented on crowding in the ED: "...the problems and solutions are necessarily institutional, and cannot be addressed by focusing on the ED in isolation."
I believed in 2001 and still believe in 2008 that my letter to Mr. Steffen, other OSF administrators, and to my colleagues in the ER was was appropriate and that changes needed to be made to protect our ER patients.
Well, the financial crisis in the U.S that is putting many people out of home and job is also putting many of them in our overcrowded ER's. See this post.
So in addition to OSF's greed, the dismal national economic picture in 2009 will imperil people's health all the more.
Annals of Emergency Medicine, October, 2009
ED crowding affects care negatively.
Not only does it reduce access to emergency medical services, but also it is associated with delays in care for cardiac, and stroke patients, as well as those with pneumonia, and is associated with an increase in patient mortality. ED crowding has been associated with prolonged patient transport time, inadequate pain management, violence of angry patients against staff, increased costs of patient care, and decreased physician job satisfaction.
More about ED crowding...even in 2010. Why would Dr. Hevesy put me on probation in 2001 after I wrote Mr. Steffen about my concerns?
From American Academy of Emergency Medicine
Washington Watch: CDC Report on ED Capacity
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a report entitled Estimates of Emergency Department Capacity: United States, 2007. This report is based on data from the CDC's 2007 National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NHAMCS). Inaugurated in 1992, the NHAMCS is now the longest continuously running national survey of hospital ED use.
The report notes that over the last several decades, the role of the ED has expanded from primarily treating seriously ill and injured patients. The report recognizes that EDs now also provide urgent and unscheduled care to patients unable to access their providers in a timely fashion and provide primary care to Medicaid beneficiaries and uninsured patients. As a result, EDs are frequently overcrowded with the most common contributing factor being the inability to transfer ED patients to an inpatient bed once the decision is made to admit them. "As the ED begins to 'board' patients, the space, the staff, and the resources available to treat new patients are further reduced," the report states. It continues, "A consequence of overcrowded EDs is ambulance diversion, in which EDs close their doors to incoming ambulances. The resulting treatment delay can be catastrophic for the patient."
According to the CDC survey, approximately 500,000 ambulances are diverted annually in the United States. The survey also shows that large EDs serving more than 50,000 patients each year represent just 17.7% of all EDs in the nation, but account for 43.8% of all ED visits in 2007. The implication, according to the report, is that small EDs with annual visit volumes of less than 20,000 patients may not experience crowding.
Other data from the survey show that about one-half of all hospitals with EDs had a bed coordinator or "bed czar," 58% had elective surgeries scheduled five days a week, and 66% had bed census data available instantaneously. Electronic medical records (EMRs), either all electronic or part paper and part electronic, were used in 62% of EDs. Basic EMR systems containing patient demographics, problem lists, clinical notes, prescription orders, and laboratory and imaging results were reported in l5% of EDs. However, the CDC could not accurately determine the prevalence of fully functional EMRs that also include features such as electronic transfer of prescription orders, warnings of drug interactions or contraindications, and reminders for guideline-based interventions.
Additional survey data show:
Overall, 62.5% of EDs reported that they board admitted ED patients for more than two hours while waiting for an inpatient bed. Among EDs that board patients, 14.8% use inpatient hallways or other space outside of the ED when critically overloaded. A "full capacity protocol" that allows some admitted patients to move from the ED to inpatient corridors while awaiting a bed was used by 21.1% of EDs.
EDs with more than 20,000 annual visits comprised more than 70% of EDs in metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs). When compared to EDs in rural areas, EDs in MSAs were more than twice as likely to board patients for more than two hours in the ED while waiting for an inpatient bed (77.4% versus 32.8%).
More than one-third of EDs had an observation or clinical decision unit. About a third of EDs used a separate fast track unit for non-urgent care.
In the previous two years, 24.3% of EDs increased their number of standard treatment spaces, and 19.5% expanded their physical space. Of those EDs that did not expand their physical space, 31.5% plan to do so within the next two years.
Zone nursing was employed in 35.3% of EDs. "Pool nurses" that can be pulled to the ED to respond to surges in demand were available in 33.2% of EDs.
Bedside registration was used in 66.1% of EDs, with 40% using computer-assisted triage. Electronic dashboards were utilized by 35.2% of EDs, and 9.8% used radio frequency identification tracking.
GAO Study Finds ED Crowding Continues
According to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released June 1, hospital EDs continue to be overcrowded, with lack of access to inpatient beds continuing as the main contributing factor. The GAO first reported that most emergency departments experienced some degree of crowding in 2003 (Hospital Emergency Departments: Crowded Conditions Vary among Hospitals and Communities, GAO-03-460). The GAO was asked to revisit this issue in response to several studies that have associated crowded conditions in EDs with adverse effects on patient quality of care.
The GAO examined three indicators of ED crowding - ambulance diversion, wait times, and patient boarding - along with various factors that contribute to crowding. In doing so, the GAO reviewed national data, conducted a literature review of 197 articles, and interviewed individual subject-matter experts and officials from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and professional and research organizations.
National data showed that about one-fourth of hospitals reported going on ambulance diversion at least once in 2006. According to the GAO's analysis of 2006 data from the HHS's National Center for Health Statistics, average wait times continued to increase, with significant numbers of visits exceeding recommended wait times based on patient acuity levels, as summarized here:
Patients needing immediate care (recommended maximum wait to see a physician of less than one minute) waited an average of 28 minutes to be seen by a physician. 73.9% of these patients waited longer than the one-minute recommendation.
Patients with emergent conditions (recommended maximum wait of 14 minutes) waited an average of 37 minutes to see a physician. 50.4% of emergent patients waited longer than 14 minutes.
Patients with urgent complaints (recommended to be seen within 60 minutes) waited an average of 50 minutes, with 20.7% of patients waiting longer than 60 minutes.
Semi-urgent conditions (two-hour maximum wait recommended) had an average wait time of 68 minutes, with 13.3% of patients waiting longer than the maximum recommended timeframe.
Non-urgent patients (24-hour recommended timeframe) had an average wait time of 76 minutes, with no ED reporting wait times to see a physician in excess of 24 hours.
Although national data on patient boarding is limited, the articles reviewed by the GAO and the experts interviewed reported that the practice is a continuing problem due to the lack of access to inpatient beds. In turn, the lack of access to inpatient beds is due to the competition for available beds between hospital admissions from the ED and scheduled admissions, such as elective surgeries, that can be more profitable for the hospital.
While the GAO found that studies on solutions to ED crowding are also limited, strategies have been successfully implemented in isolated cases. One solution found in case studies conducted at several hospitals was to streamline elective surgery schedules, thereby increasing the opportunity for ED admissions. Regarding ambulance diversion, some local communities have established policies that make diversion the last resort for any hospital, as it often leads to critical cases not receiving the immediate care they need. Other strategies include the use of on-call physicians to determine the best ambulance destination for each patient or state policy prohibiting hospitals from going on diversion unless under inoperable conditions.
Strategies to decrease ED wait times included increasing the speed with which laboratory results are available, accelerating care during the triage process by eliminating some of the administrative work associated with patients entering the ED, and implementing a system allowing non-urgent patients to be seen by a medical provider other than a physician. However, none of the strategies to address crowding have been assessed on a state or national level.
The GAO found that there are several other frequently reported causes for ED crowding, including a lack of access to primary care; a shortage of available on-call specialists; and difficulties in transferring, admitting, or discharging psychiatric patients. Less commonly cited causes of ED crowding included an aging population, increasing acuity of patients, staff shortages, hospital processes, and financial factors.
For the full report, go to http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d09347.pdf.
It is June, 2010. Can you believe it?
Well, Emergency Department crowding is still an issue in 2010 just as it was in 2001.
Here is a post from today.
We will stay in touch.
June 26, 2010
Well, it is May, 2011. Time flies when you are having a good time.
I posted this article yesterday.
We will stay in touch and thanks for reading.
Today is June 1, 2011.
I posted this today.
Today is October 17, 2011.
I posted this today.
It is December 23, 2011. It is very sunny and clear today. I still need to rake some leaves in the backyard.
Hope you are well.
I posted this today.
May 27, 2012
It is Memorial Day Weekend. Hope you all are well.
I posted this article yesterday. It is from Edmonton and mentions a doctor who notified administrators of his concerns of danger in the ED due to overcrowding in 2008. But his concerns were not addressed.
This sounds familiar to me.
Also, in Peoria, we now have two fire stations that are paramedic. And in the near future all new firefighters in Peoria will have to be paramedic. Please see this post.
So times are changing for the better in Peoria. Change is hard when corruption is deep. And when our local medical leaders who have corrupted the system here for so long are gone, things will be much better for EMS in Peoria.
- Introduction--Peoria's Medical Mafia
- Keith's Letter
- Conversations with Keith Steffen
- Keith Steffen and the Apostolic Christian Communit...
- Conversations with George
- Conflict of Interest
- OSF-AMT Relationship
- Emergency Room Overcrowding
- OSF Emergency Room Patient Satsifaction
- Fear at OSF
- Conversation with Sister Canisia
- Conversations in Church
- Sister Judith Ann
- Conversations With Chris
- Ethics Committee at OSF
- Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Heal...
- Patricia Gibson and Monsignor Rohlfs
- Picketing OSF
- Bishop Jenky Haitian Hearts Meeting---February, 20...
- Bishop Jenky's Threat
- Catholic Diocese Abandons Haitian Hearts
- Tom Carroll's Letter to Bishop Jenky---September, ...
- Bishop Jenky Rejects Catholic Tribunal Court
- Bishop Jenky's Response to Tribunal---November 17,...
- Paul Kramer--Executive Director Children's Hospita...
- OSF Cuts Haitian Hearts Funding--July, 2002
- Slow Down Surgery--Part I
- Slow Down Surgery--Part II
- Letter Regarding Delay of Surgery---November, 2002...
- Perfume, Pets, and Pediatrics
- Linda Arnold--OSF Foundation
- Letter to Illinois Attorney General---January 15, ...
- Willie's Pacemaker
- Jackson is Dying
- Joe Piccione---Ethics vs. Practice
- Diane's Letter to Joe Piccione and Patricia Gibson...
- Pleading OSF for Jackson's Life
- Letter to Sister, Keith, and Paul re: Jackson Jean...
- Jackson Jean-Baptiste Forum Article
- Jackson's Letter to Sister Judith Ann
- Washing Jackson's Feet
- Jackson Jean-Baptiste's Obituary
- Children's Hospital of Illinois Advisory Board
- Jackson Jean-Baptiste and Keith Steffen
- Jackson Shouldn't Have Died
- Emergency Medical Systems Failure in Peoria
- Peoria Journal Star Articles
- Firehouse Forum
- Cardiac Arrest
- Basic Drugs
- More Fear
- Trust in Physicians
- Questions for George, Rick, and Andrew
- On the Take
- Open Letter to Peoria Medical Society---January 6,...
- Questions About Matrix Consulting Group
- The Matrix Report
- Should Peoria Fire Department Sell Its Only Amubla...
- Let Peoria Fire Department Operate its Ambulance
- 19 Minutes Is Too Long
- Ambulance Monopoly Unhealthy for City
- Peoria City Council--August 9, 2005
- Peoria's Greed
- Peoria City Council---February 7, 2006
- ▼ March (64)