Baptist Health Louisville's Observation Unit treats its 1,000th patient on Jan. 20

February 17, 2022

Average patient stay in the unit is only 17.8 hours.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Feb. 17, 2022) – The Baptist Health Louisville Observation Unit treated their 1,000th patient after opening on Sept. 7, 2021. The goal is for a patient stay to be less than 24-hours, however, patients will stay as long as necessary to define their diagnosis and appropriate treatment measures. The unit is doing an amazing job in keeping with that goal. Their average patient stay is only 17.8 hours.

Some information on the Observation Unit:

  • The unit opened in September with 8 beds and has increased to 16 beds. The total capacity is 32 beds.
  • 1.9 patient per bed per day passes through the Observation Unit
  • Currently, one-third of patients have COVID-19 but they but they can go home within 24-hours

The Executive team and Baptist Health is supporting new methods and procedures that provide new benefits to patients, with the end-point being better care for the patient.

“This Observation Unit has been a strategic priority of ours for a while,” said Baptist Health Louisville, Chief Nursing Officer, Karen Higdon. “We worked on the plans for about a year, and then made it happen. The purpose of the unit is to allow patients to be in the correct level of care.”

The Observation Unit is staffed with a 24-hour Nurse Practitioner. This ensures that if a patient needs care that is more advanced or needs to be admitted, they can be transferred out of the Observation Unit to another unit in the hospital. With current capacity issues, the Observation Unit has allowed staff to move some patients from the Emergency Department to the Observation Unit to free up space and provide the appropriate level of care.

“The Observation Unit has greatly added to patient care. In the past, if you came to the Emergency Department thinking you were having a heart attack, you would have been admitted as an inpatient,” said Baptist Health Louisville, Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Kenneth (Chuck) Anderson. “Now you would go to the Observation Unit where you would be getting an observation bed, getting further testing and treatments as needed, if heart attack or other causes ruled out with testing, you will be able to get home in a more timely fashion and saving the inpatient beds for the other patients whose tests were abnormal.”

“I’ve been involved with the Observation Unit since the very beginning and I’m very proud of the team we have, and we’ve already expanded twice,” said Executive Director of Nursing, Michelle Lynn. “This unit allows us to respect patients’ time and hospital resources as well.”

“The Observation Unit focuses on patients that come in need of further workup but maybe don’t necessitate a full hospital stay. Our goal is to get patients in, then give them the treatment, tests and consults they need and get them home,” said Nurse Manager of the Observation Unit, Anna Powell. “What we’re really trying to do is honor peoples’ time and get them home to their families as fast as we can while providing great care. It really makes a difference to folks.”

Nurse and Director of the Observation Unit and Emergency Department, Cheryl Freudenberger, had the responsibility of staffing the new unit. “When staffing the Observation Unit, I worked with Dr. Shah and Michelle Lynn to bring on the best staff,” said Freudenberger. “We brought on fantastic Nurse Manager, Anna Powell, and she has been the driving force of the unit. A lot of the nurses who joined the unit came with an Emergency Department background as well. That was a great benefit, because the Observation Unit is a hybrid between inpatient and the Emergency Department due to its rapid turn-around.”

Karan Shah, MD, Baptist Health Louisville, vice president of physician integration, was honored when Baptist Health Louisville brought him into the planning stages for the unit. “The goal of the Observation Unit is to provide high quality care efficiently for the patients in a team environment,” said Dr. Shah. “We really want to value patients’ time and get the patient involved in their care—that’s our secret sauce…keeping the patient front and center and catering to what they need.”

Dr. Shah continues, “We have been very well supported by the Baptist Health Louisville administration. I am thankful to Larry Gray, Baptist Health Louisville, president; Karen Higdon, vice president and chief nursing officer; Kenneth (Chuck) Anderson, chief medical officer; Gretchen Leiterman, chief operating officer and Michelle Lynn, executive director of nursing for all of their support.”

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