Health facilities in the region have prepared for an anticipated boost in emergency room patients following the closure of Good Samaritan Hospital’s ER on Thursday.
The Good Samaritan ER closed at noon Thursday ahead of the full hospital closure at 12:01 a.m. on Monday. The event prompted bittersweet sign-offs from dispatch operators and protests from community members who have opposed the closure.
It also started a process of likely boosted traffic to other facilities in the region, which had already started preparing.
Down the road from Good Samaritan, competitor hospital Grandview Medical Center’s volumes and patient acuity have steadily increased over the last couple of months.
Grandview, operated by Kettering Health Network, is in the final stages of a $25 million expansion of its emergency department and is also expanding its cardiology services, both in anticipation of more patients after Good Samaritan closes. The hospital at 405 W. Grand Ave. has also changed the way it triages patients to a new model that helped increase the percentage of patients seen by a doctor within 10 minutes from 38 percent to 71 percent.
Jewell Strawn, director of nursing for emergency services, said the hospital’s previous average was 90 to 100 patients per day, but that numbed has increased to 120 to 130 per day. It expects patient volume to increase 20 to 30 percent once Good Samaritan actually closes.
She said the hospital is increasing nursing staff and patient rooms to accommodate this increase.
“We have also improved our throughput significantly to expedite patients being admitted. I do not foresee a longer wait time to see a physician with the changes we have made. We look forward to serving more of our community,” Strawn said.
Ronda Brandstater, vice president of patient care at Grandview, said in a statement that she had been in the emergency department and “everyone is pulling together in such an amazing way. We received 40 patients basically all at once.”
Good Samaritan saw 58,817 ER visits at its main campus in 2016, and now those patients will have to reroute to surrounding emergency rooms, some of which saw patient visits and wait times climb in the immediate aftermath.
Premier said in a statement that since the Good Samaritan ER closed “Miami Valley Hospital’s emergency department has been busy. However, the emergency department operations have been normal, and open to all patients needing emergency care.”
Premier lists its estimated ER wait times online for each emergency department, and those times started to climb later in the day. The ER wait time estimates listed online are based on patient activity within the past hour, and individual times vary since patients are treated in order of how severe their injuries are.
At 2:40 p.m. Thursday, Premier indicated that the estimated wait time before a person saw a physician at the ER was 154 minutes at Good Samaritan North, 46 minutes at Miami Valley Hospital and 28 minutes at Miami Valley Hospital South.
By later that day, however, times were already subsiding, down at Miami Valley to 11 minutes as of 5 pm and averaging 26 minutes between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. that day.
At Good Samaritan North, Premier said in a statement that it “went through our normal processes and brought in more people to care for those patients as we saw volumes increase,” with waits subsiding that evening.
Premier said in a statement that it had planned to have treated any patients waiting in the Good Samaritan emergency department lobby at the time that it closed, but there were none.
Elective procedures had already shifted to other sites of service within Premier Health. Nonclinical staff were at the Good Samaritan lobby to give a list of nearby emergency departments or urgent care centers.
Good Samaritan staff anticipate needing to transfer very few, if any, of the remaining patients at Good Samaritan Hospital, but if that need arises, any transfers will occur by ambulance prior to 12:01 am on Monday.
At noon Thursday, as the Good Samaritan dispatch for its ER signed off for the last time, crews called in final dispatches just before noon thanking the hospital staff for its work over the years.
“We want to thank all of the dedicated doctors, nurses and and support staff for your service and for all the support Good Samaritan Hospital has provided to us and to the community the past 85 years,” one caller radioed in as a final sign off.
Protesters stood outside during the ER closure at the 2222 Philadelphia Dr. hospital. The protests were led by a group of clergy that has continued to decry the plan to close and raze the hospital as the last straw in a string of disinvestment in black neighborhoods in Dayton.
David Greer, chairman of the Northwest Priority Board, who was at the protests, criticized Premier for continuing to build in other communities while closing down Good Samaritan.
“And now to deny African-Americans on the west side of Dayton health care and medical services is just an evil,” he said.
Premier leaders have said the difficult decision to close the hospital was necessary for long-term sustainability. As medicine has advanced and the Dayton population declined, the number of hospital stays has fallen at both Good Samaritan and Miami Valley, which are five miles apart.
As the hospital’s final close date of 12:01 a.m. Monday nears, community health centers in the city’s west and northwest neighborhoods have also been preparing for the closure of the hospital.
Community Health Centers of Greater Dayton and Fiver Rivers Health Centers are federally qualified community health centers, which serve patients on a sliding-fee scale and are governed by a patient-majority board. Care is coordinated through a primary care physician. While neither is equipped to take the place of major hospital services, the two groups see ways they can serve the community’s needs going forward.
Gregg Hopkins, executive director of Community Health Centers, said previously that he hopes the organization can serve patients who had previously been using the Good Sam ER instead of regular primary care visits.
Five Rivers expanded its successful prenatal care program CenteringPregnancy to the Family Health Center, which is located on the Good Sam campus and will remain after the hospital closes. The health center also added weekend hours from 8 a.m. to noon the first and third Saturdays of every month.