By TODD GLASSCOCK
It’s Saturday and your child’s sick with a sore throat that won’t go away. A visit to the doctor might help, but the only option you see is to take your child to the emergency room.
But often, emergency care isn’t the best option, said Harris Brooks, CEO of Palo Pinto General Hospital. Emergency room visits are expensive and emergency care, while high-quality, is set up for triage – based on degrees of urgency – to assess the patient and determine what further treatment is needed.
Children often get more appropriate care when seen by a primary care physician, who can give a child a full assessment not always available from emergency care, he said.
Some people, especially if they are uninsured or on Medicaid, choose the emergency room over primary care because they see it as their only option for treatment, he said. Pediatric visits, in these cases, seem to occur frequently nationwide and is also true for PPGH.
“We recognized an inordinate amount of pediatrics going to the emergency department,” he said.
Stats showed that about 25 percent of emergency room visits were pediatric cases, he said. So, to reduce these visits, in August the hospital decided to add pediatricians who would accept all pediatric patients, including those on Medicaid or the uninsured.
This move, Brooks said, allows the hospital to treat more patients, expedite emergency care and improve overall quality of care to everyone.
Dr. Bart Robbins is currently participating in the program, and sees patients during regular office hours, he said. Dr. Anantha Bhandari also is considering participating.
The hospital is able to offer this level of care through monies provided by the 1115 Waiver, a statewide program from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to aid hospitals with high numbers of Medicaid and uninsured patients, he said.