New Grand Haven ER will focus on overall care

A rendering of the emergency room at North Ottawa Community Health System in Grand Haven. (March 5, 2015)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A Grand Haven hospital announced Thursday that they plan to remodel their emergency department — both the physical building and how they treat patients.

In a press conference, the North Ottawa Community Health System announced plans to remodel the emergency room.  A fundraising campaign called ‘Pulse’ will help raise money for the new facility. The hospital asked the community for help in raising $2.5 million, saying they had reached 70 percent of that goal. The project will cost a total of $9.67 million and is expected to be completed by 2016.

A hospital spokesperson said they want to change how patients receive emergency care and hope to eliminate misuse or unnecessary treatment.

“When people come to ERs, they come to have that specific issue taken care of and we’re looking at the patient through a much broader lens. Obviously, we will take care of whatever that issue is, we want to get to the question of why are you having that issue and how can we coordinate and affect a lifelong change for you and not just the immediate need,” said President and CEO of North Ottawa Community Health System Shelleye Yaklin.

Officials said the new emergency room will be more efficient and will quickly connect patients with the proper type of care, such as mental health or pediatrics.

The medical director of Spectrum Health’s Center for Integrative Medicine, which is similar to the proposed effort in Grand Haven, said Thursday’s announcement is good for the region.

Spectrum Health launched the Center for Integrative Medicine — the first of its kind in the state — in 2011. Its goal at the time was to reduce the numbers of “frequent fliers” to emergency rooms. Spectrum looked at the patients who went to the emergency room 10 or more times in a years and established a center to treat underlying problems.

“I think that [another hospital is addressing this concern] shows we’re really ahead of the curve nationally,” said Dr. R Corey Waller, the medical director for Spectrum’s Center for Integrative Medicine.

In the first study Waller did, he told 24 Hour News 8, a group of 30 frequent users cut their visits by 85 percent — saving about a million dollars.

The goal of units like the Center for Integrative Medicine and the proposed unit in Grand Haven is to both provide quality care and reduce costs.

“It’s not about getting them better diabetes care, it’s about getting them the care all around,” said Waller. “Those are the common things that we’ve found is not focusing so much on the disease, but focusing really on the patient and redefining the medical problem as anything that affects their wellness.”

Waller said about five percent of patients are responsible for about 60 percent of all medical care costs.

Substance abuse is a concern that places like his center address.

“There’s a large amount of research and science that show if we appropriately treat these patients, they actually become less expensive and more productive,” said Waller. “They have to survive, so in their brain they’re doing what they have to to survive, and it doesn’t always connect with the philosophy of, ‘is what I am doing right; is what I am doing necessary?’ It is, ‘what I have to do to survive?'”

Waller said he thinks that all hospitals will have some sort of center to treat more complex, higher-cost patients in the future.

“We’re finding that by working with these patients in an effective manner that it makes everything else better in regular primary care and in the emergency department, because all of those lessons learned get applied across the hospital system and not just in these clinics,” said Waller. “I would think that every hospital system down the road is going to have some version of this — whether it be a clinic, an outreach program, a combo of the two or just a complete change of what primary care does and how they approach patients. But either way, this will definitely be a focus and pretty mandatory moving forward.”


North Ottawa Community Health System

Spectrum Health Center for Integrative Medicine

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