NEWS ARTICLES 2007
In-and-out Patients are Focus of Center
The Augusta Chronicle
Tom Corwin/Staff Writer
Theresa Aaronson looked around Wednesday at the beige walls of the waiting room and, despite having just been stuck with a needle, declared herself more relaxed. "It seems a little bit more organized," she said, standing in the lab area of the new Outpatient Center at University Hospital. "Just more comforting, coming into it."
The Outpatient Center, which will be dedicated today, is just the first completed piece of a massive $93.6 million renovation of University, the largest the hospital has ever taken on.
The Outpatient Center features a dedicated entrance for patients coming in from a 125-space parking lot, where they can be centrally registered, get their lab work done, and then go to the clinics on the second floor of the hospital, said George Ann Phillips, the director of access services.
It is primarily aimed at patients who will be at the hospital two hours or less, much like a visit to a private practice doctor.
The need grew out of a realization that during the past 10-15 years, the hospital was treating a steadily growing percentage of outpatients.
In 2001, for instance, 32.7 percent of University's volume came from outpatient treatments, while in June, it had risen to 34. 3 percent.
Nationally, outpatient visits have risen from about 200 million in 1981 to nearly 600 million in 2005, according to data from the American Hospital Association.
The new center also is aimed at addressing the way a hospital built for inpatient acute care was treating those who wouldn't be spending the night. Outpatients might park in several different areas, enter the hospital through several doors, get registered in one area but then have to find their way to still another spot for treatments, Mrs. Phillips said.
"There was not a really good way to get to that (outpatient) area," she said.
Administrators learned that firsthand the day they did a walk-through of a typical outpatient visit that went from the lab to diagnostic testing to treatment, said Rodney Momcilovic, clinical operations lab manager.
"I was exhausted," he said. It is also a recognition that with less invasive surgeries and more refined treatments, more and more procedures won't need an overnight stay, he said.
For Jennifer Foss of North Augusta, who was getting blood work done, the new surroundings don't matter as much as the people.
"They always take good care of me," she said.