Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Kaiser's ER welcomes first patients

Kaiser's ER welcomes first patients
By Kimberly K. Fu
Posted: 10/07/2009

Vacaville resident Susan Lyons (left) rests Tuesday inside the emergency room at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center as Don Holman, R.N. (center) and Stanley James review her electronic medical record. (Rick Roach / The Reporter)

As Solano residents rubbed the sleep from their eyes on Tuesday morning, Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Vacaville opened the doors to its brand-new emergency care facility and welcomed its first patient, albeit a bit early.

Officially slated to open at 8:30 a.m., the emergency center instead began operations at 8:06 a.m., when staff saw a young man waiting outside.

"We didn't want to tell him, hey, you have to wait 24 minutes," Kaiser spokeswoman Joanie Erickson joked.

No doubt the 18-year-old patient was grateful. He was ushered in and treated for a condition described as "not serious."

In fact, of the 17 patients received by 3 p.m., none were considered acute cases. A good thing all around, though officials noted that the state-of-the-art facility stands at the ready for anything that comes its way. At least three doctors and around 15 staff members were on duty, according to Linda Goble, the emergency room director.

An afternoon visit to the emergency room revealed a relatively calm atmosphere, unlike the stereotypical chaotic scenes usually shown on late-night television. A handful of people sat quietly in the airy, cheerfully-painted waiting rooms; doctors, nurses and other staff bustled through long hallways tending to patient needs; and patients, themselves, nestled in cozy rooms either awaiting or recovering from treatment.

Susan Lyons of Vacaville reclined in her hospital room around 3:10 p.m., watching the activity outside her room and responding to questions posed by various staff members who frequently checked in on her.

Early that morning, the 41-year-old had come in due to a shortness of breath. She later left to go to work, then returned when her condition didn't lessen.

Having just signed up with Kaiser in March, Lyons said the service she's received thus far has been excellent. Used to going as far as Richmond for treatment, she described the Vacaville location as more convenient, especially in cases of emergency.

"I'm very thankful that this is here," she said. "It's been great. Everyone's been really nice and informative. ... I'm impressed."

No stranger to hospitals, Lyons said that seemingly small details -- from a friendly smile to a "how are you doing" -- can make a hospital stay better.

"The staff is so great," she added. "It makes a big difference."

Leisa Johnson of Suisun agreed.

"The nurses were all very attentive," she recalled. "This was just a different pace."

Seeking help for chest pains, Johnson checked in at 12:30 and was undergoing testing. Her husband, Harold, said his wife was a little anxious and tired, likely due to a lack of sleep.

"We have 24-hour jobs," he said, explaining that the couple has eight children.

Usually, the two seek care at Kaiser's Vallejo facility.

"This is just convenient for us because it's closer," he said. "It's no knock on Vallejo -- we've gotten good service there."

"We've had two children there," his wife added.

Kaiser officials said the feedback thus far, mostly gleaned from Saturday's open house, has been positive.

"I got a lot of, 'It's been a long time coming,' '' ER director Linda Goble said.

Chris Brazil moves a portable electronic medical record station to a patient's room inside the emergency room at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Vacaville. (Rick Roach / The Reporter)