Carolinas HealthCare System
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Innovative Staffing Model Leads to Shorter Stays and Better Outcomes

Most people, even those close to hospitals, don’t often recognize the complicated nature of staffing facilities. The importance of staffing is supported by evidence-based improvement in patient outcomes, patient-safety, and patient satisfaction. One of the many innovations implemented at the brand new hospital is a unique staffing model that provides a clinically effective and consistent course of treatment for patients. The hospitalist model, with inpatient physicians working seven days straight alongside their social work team, offers patients more coordination of their care through the course of their time in the hospital, including the weekends.

“Weekends provide the same intense, high caliber care patients experience on week days, said Cheryl Dodds, MD, medical director of the Mindy Ellen Levine Behavioral Health Hospital. “ Admissions and discharges are managed with equal thoughtfulness on Saturday as on Wednesday, allowing quality patient care to dictate treatment course, not physician or staff schedule,” said Dr. Dodds. The weekend discharge is also advantageous to both the hospital and the patient because it reduces the length of stay and is a better use of healthcare dollars.

To provide some context around this model, most psychiatric hospitals have a covering physician who rounds over the weekend, but is unlikely to make any significant changes in the overall course of treatment, such as making a discharge. So if a patient is deemed able to go home, they can’t, which creates an “artificial barrier” for the patient. In 2014, an estimated 20 percent of discharges happened on the weekend at the Mindy Ellen Levine Behavioral Health Hospital, which exceeded initial projections.

“Those discharges meant there was space for new patients- patients who came from metro emergency departments- so someone who needed care did not have to linger in the emergency department over the weekend,” said Tom Gettelman, PhD, Facility Executive for the Mindy Ellen Levine Behavioral Health Hospital.

All three units of the hospital are successfully using this staffing model at Mindy Ellen Levine Behavioral Health Hospital.