Fostering Growth Across Varied Hospital Settings
Note: In February 2018, Carolinas HealthCare System became Atrium Health.
Atrium Health, formerly Carolinas HealthCare System, is a large healthcare entity located in North and South Carolina. In Charlotte, NC, and the surrounding Mecklenburg County, many of the system’s emergency departments had been staffed for 25 years by a private EM group. The hospital system envisioned growth and wished to entertain strategic initiatives to improve their acute care standing, but the private EM group had limited resources and was unable to meet the needs of the system without financial support.
On Jan. 1, 2010, USACS partnered with now-Atrium Health to help provide their acute care needs at four hospital EDs in the Charlotte region. USACS met with the group members and retained 37 of 39 physicians and all the advanced practice providers at these sites. Additional staff were hired to bring the group to a total of 66 emergency physicians and 33 APPs, making up a strong team of ED clinicians. The transition for the hospital system was seamless as their best physicians were retained and the need for financial support to achieve full staffing was effectively eliminated by USACS.
The partnership that the system found with USACS includes not only staffing but also the management of clinical operations. USACS’ strength is bringing new ideas and solutions in order to create the most efficiently run ED possible, while improving the patient experience. The USACS PhysicianFirst program was implemented in the appropriate clinical settings to improve the triage process and decrease walkouts. Efficiency consulting, patient satisfaction training, and an experienced and effective leadership team helped guide the physician group to optimize patient flow. As operations improved in the hospital EDs, two new freestanding EDs were opened in the region bringing in over 30,000 visits within 24 months. The joint efforts made a real difference to the residents of Mecklenburg County, NC.
- Volume at the original six EDs has grown overall 20%.
- A freestanding ED created in partnership with USACS opened its doors within two years.
- A second freestanding ED created in partnership with USACS opened spring of 2014.
- An additional three hospital sites representing 118,000 annual patient visits were being added in 2016.
- The USACS national recruiting program attracted over 45 residency-trained, board- certified/eligible emergency physicians to join the group.
- The USACS team approach and medical protocols helped align neurologists, radiologists, and hospitalists with emergency medicine specialists to help create and foster the development of the Carolina Stroke Network.
Atrium Health continues to provide the leadership and experience to meet the acute care healthcare needs of their communities. Oversight of operations and quality is managed for each individual ED by capable and focused USACS leaders. Board-certified emergency physicians are located and retained by USACS and have made their home among the Atrium Health facilities. The vibrant partnership with USACS has brought growth and increased community standing to help Atrium Health become the premier provider of emergency medicine in the Charlotte, NC region.