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'The Business of Health Care Report'

You, Your Employees and the Emergency Department
10/09/2006

Click to listen to the taped broadcast.

I’m Doug Hawthorne, president and CEO of Texas Health Resources, with “The Business of Health Care Report.”

In 2005, almost half of the admissions in Texas Health Resources’ hospitals came through the emergency department. We expect that number to soon grow to more than 50 percent. As our emergency departments handle more patients, it’s critical for us to remember what emergency departments are designed to do – and what they are not.

Emergency departments are not primary care facilities. They are not typically the place to go for sore throats or sniffles. They are designed and staffed to handle emergencies. Non-emergencies tie up precious resources and drive up the cost of health care for everyone.

Eventually, each of us will either need emergency health care or know someone who does. As an employer, there are specific ways you can help.

First, include information about the role of emergency departments during annual benefits enrollment and at employer-sponsored health fairs. Second, stress to your employees the importance of establishing an ongoing physician relationship to manage most medical needs. And third, make sure your employees understand the purpose of neighborhood urgent care centers, which can be a good option when prompt attention is needed for a non-emergency.

By educating your employees, you can help alleviate some of the strain before our hospital emergency departments succumb to the crush of overcrowding and misuse.

For Texas Health Resources and its faith-based hospitals – Harris Methodist, Presbyterian and Arlington Memorial – I’m Doug Hawthorne.

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