March 22, 2006 — The Juan F. Luis Hospital has instituted a Fast Track program to reduce emergency room wait times, thereby allowing patients with minor injuries to be moved to another section of the hospital.
There they can be treated and released in less than an hour — a great improvement to the average emergency room visit, which lasts typically between three to four hours.
The new system and other improvements to the hospital's emergency room were highlighted at a ceremony under a tent in the JFL parking lot Wednesday.
Hospital officials, dignitaries and the general public gathered to witness the grand opening of the Ambulatory Care Services/Fast Track unit and the open house of the newly renamed Charles Daniel Lenhardt Emergency Department.
Darice Plaskett, a registered nurse and vice president of patient care services, led a tour of the facilities after the brief outdoor ceremony. The first stop was a new police office located to the left of the emergency room doors.
Plaskett said the police presence would "facilitate a safe environment" for patients and visitors. Security cameras will be installed at the emergency room entrance for parking lot surveillance, she added.
Another new addition is the pediatric waiting room. Plaskett said a flat screen television would be installed and children's activities such as coloring books and games would be available.
In the emergency triage room, a screening system called ESI, or emergency severity index, has been put in place. The system categorizes patients into five levels to ensure those most in need of treatment are served first.
Changes have also been made in the physicians who care for the patients, according to hospital medical director Dr. Kendall Griffith.
Griffith said qualified physician assistants have been added to the team. The assistants were chosen not only for their qualifications but for their personality and ability to relate to residents.
The ACS unit has its own reception area, waiting, exam and supply rooms. The area also has patient and staff restrooms. The entire emergency area is newly painted with murals of bright tropical scenes by artist Isabel Picard.
The emergency room was named in honor of Lenhardt, who has a long history with hospital services in St. Croix. Lenhardt's medical services career began in 1932 when he served as head nurse in charge of Christiansted Municipal Hospital's male medical ward and served in the same capacity at Charles Harwood Memorial Hospital (CHMH).
In 1946 Lenhardt began working at New York Harlem Medical Center until returning to St. Croix in 1968. He served as supervisor in charge of the CHMH emergency room until he retired in 1977. After retiring, Lenhardt worked part time at Golden Grove Correctional facility, serving medication to inmates.
Plaskett said since the new services began in January, more than 400 patients have been seen. ACS is open Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Officials hope to extend the operation hours soon.
Griffith said ACS has "exceeded our expectations" in patient care.
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