Saturday, August 2, 2003

Hospitals make ER worth the wait

The Associated Press

TOLEDO - Two hospitals have a new deal for the sick and injured who end up in their emergency rooms: If they have to wait 30 minutes before being seen by a doctor, they will get a gift certificate.

"In an emergency, you're coming because you really do not feel well, and the last thing you want to do is sit and wait," said Karen Connors, president and chief executive of St. Anne Mercy Hospital, which along with St. Charles Mercy Hospital in Oregon, Ohio, is offering the promise.

If patients at either hospital aren't seen by a doctor in 30 minutes, they will be offered gifts, which include a $15 gas card to Speedway or a $15 donation in their name to one of three charities.

One of the top patient complaints across the country is the waiting time in emergency departments, Connors said.

Nationwide, patients spend an average three hours in an emergency room from admission to discharge, with more than half spending two to six hours, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Hospitals in other states have tried the gift strategy before. The Oakwood Hospital and Medical Center in Dearborn, Mich. offers patients movie tickets if they're not seen in 30 minutes or less. A spokeswoman for the Ohio Hospital Association said she doesn't know of any other emergency rooms in the state offering gifts.

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