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New Patient Unit Designed To Improve Emergency Room Experience

Patients who require ongoing care after initial treatment in the Emergency Department may be moved into the new Clinical Decision Unit (CDU) which opened mid-November.

The move to the CDU will improve the care experience for patients who are awaiting an inpatient bed or who require additional observation before discharge. Moving those patients to the CDU frees up emergency beds which should improve the flow of patients arriving in the ED for care.

The 12-bed CDU will be open from 7 a.m. Monday to 11 p.m. Friday.

Chief Nursing Officer Sharon Strohecker, who also is the Vice President of Clinical Services, said a number of improvements for the ED have been suggested but “the creation of the CDU is perhaps the most important first step.”

She said after a patient is moved to the CDU, staff and the attending physicians there will finish the history and physical, complete and initiate physician orders and deliver any additional medications. And, she adds, if a patient then requires an inpatient bed, the paperwork completed on the CDU will make the transition to the inpatient unit quicker and less cumbersome for the receiving nurse.

“There are benefits all around,” adds Dr. Trina Abla, Physician Advisor and Hospitalist. “For the patient, they leave what often can be a loud, bustling ED for a quiet, private room with an actual bed. They also will have a TV, private bathroom and access to food and a phone. The doctor can sit and talk with them instead of hovering over them like in the ED, and everyone involved will feel less rushed. Since things will be more organized and calmer it should greatly improve the patient and staff experience.”

Manager of the Emergency Department, Mike Shuker, says moving patients out of the CDU “frees up beds for incoming patients and allows ED staff to stay focused on those patients requiring emergency care.”

Penn State Health St. Joseph’s Emergency Department provides full emergency services, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

If you or a loved one experiences any medical emergencies such as stroke, chest pain, heart attack, loss of consciousness, immediately dial 9-1-1 and do not attempt to drive to the hospital.


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