UVMC opens observation unit

Staff report

TROY — Upper Valley Medical Center has opened an observation unit, which is designed to determine what is happening with patients, meet their medical needs, and return them home as soon as possible.

A stay in the unit is typically less than 24 hours, said Jean Heath, a UVMC director of nursing. The 10-bed unit that opened in late 2016 is similar to units used solely for observation patients at other Premier Health hospitals.

“Premier Health/UVMC prides itself on being in the forefront of advancing patient experience and quality. And one area where we are making strides is the development of a closed observation unit,” said Becky Rice, president of UVMC. “There are many achievable goals to benefit patients centering on lowering their length of stay at the hospital, appropriately monitoring testing and transitioning patients to their physician for immediate follow-up.”

Observation patients are taken to the unit at the referral of hospitalists in the emergency department. The patient receives tests and observation, but is not admitted to the hospital, Heath said.

“It is for those patients who need a boost, and then can get back home,” Heath said.

Prior to opening the unit, patients staying for observation were placed on care units with admitted patients.

Having such patients on one unit helps focus on their specific needs. “They already are expecting a short visit,” Heath said. “The emergency department staff explains to the patient that they are going to be in an observation unit. They are told the doctor wants to run some tests.”

The unit set-up allows for more efficiencies, Heath noted.

“Staff hired into the unit like the fast pace. The team of nurses is in tune with how this moves,” she said.

Dr. Willie Craft is the observation unit director. Nurse Stephanie Kaiser is unit manager.

Staff report