Hinsdale Hospital ER taking reservations
Adventist Hinsdale Hospital physician Ted Patras and emergency room manager Noreen Connelly show the ERexpress website which allows patients to make a reservation at home to cut their wait time in the emergency room. | Ryan Pagelow~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 7, 2013 6:09AM
HINSDALE — People may do a double-take when the emergency room staff at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital asks if they have a reservation.
But the hospital started taking reservations for its emergency room in October. The appointments, which are made online, are intended for people with non-life threatening injuries or illnesses.
The service is an enhancement of the hospital’s “fast track area,” which opened about a year ago.
“Minor problems go into (the fast-track) area . . . where a midlevel provider sees them,” said Noreen Connelly, Hinsdale’s emergency room manager.
Midlevel providers include nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants.
The hospital remodeled the fast-track area in September and expanded it from four rooms to eight so patients would not have to wait long to be examined.
“We want to service the community and that’s what the community wants, to get in and out, especially busy moms,” Connelly said.
The online reservation system, operated by the Atlanta-based company ER Express, is another way to make a trip to the emergency room more convenient. Patients can wait in the comfort of their home until it’s time to leave for their appointment, the hospital’s public relations director Julie Busch said.
The hospital had surveyed people who used the emergency department to learn what improvements they would like.
“Waiting time was a huge thing,” Connelly said.
The goal is for a member of the medical staff to see patients and begin treatment within 30 minutes of their arrival.
Adventist Midwest Health is testing the reservation system on a limited basis at Hinsdale Hospital, and not its other three hospitals in the area, including La Grange Memorial.
Reservations via the website, www.hinsdaleer.com, are offered between 1 p.m. and 10 p.m. to coincide with the ER’s busiest period. During the night and in the morning, the ER generally is not crowded so there is little advantage to a reservation.
Although appointment times are listed every 10 minutes on the website, only one reservation per hour is accepted, she said.
“We want to start with a handful of people and make it the best experience we can for them,” Connelly said.
The bill to be treated in a hospital emergency room, however, is more expensive for the patient or their insurance company, than a visit to a doctor’s office.
In the first eight weeks the reservation system has been available, seven people booked an appointment. Their reasons for seeking medical treatment were two earaches, a headache, a toothache, dizziness, a fall and an injured ankle.
People booking a reservation online must describe their symptoms. If the symptoms, such as chest pain, indicate a serious medical condition, the computer instructs the person to seek emergency help and will not book a reservation, Connelly said.
“There are stringent criteria” for whether a patient can be diverted to the fast-track area, she said.