Emergency care: When bad luck turns good | SteamboatToday.com

Emergency care: When bad luck turns good

Riley Polumbus

Steamboat Springs — What's a two-letter name for an award-winning Steamboat Springs “hot spot” that is the last place you want to be for aprÃs ski? — What's a two-letter name for an award-winning Steamboat Springs “hot spot” that is the last place you want to be for aprÃs ski?

— What’s a two-letter name for an award-winning Steamboat Springs “hot spot” that is the last place you want to be for aprÃs ski?

Answer: ED, short for Emergency Department.

If you’ve never visited Yampa Valley Medical Center’s Emergency Department during the ski and snowboard season, well, that’s a good thing. But I can say from personal experience that if you have to go, you just might consider yourself lucky.

It happened one Friday afternoon in March 2007, while skiing through one of Steamboat’s famous aspen glades. My knee twisted and I heard the “pop” of my ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tearing. It’s the classic snow sport injury, ubiquitous for the emergency team at YVMC.

I rolled into the ED, compliments of YVMC’s skier transport shuttle, at 4:03 p.m. A friendly Help at Hand volunteer assisted me with removing my boots, placing them and my other gear aside for safe keeping. At the same time, I was triaged by ED nurse Jeannie Karren and then moved to one of the 12 treatment areas.

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It was a busy afternoon. In fact, I was the seventh knee injury there at the time. So, it’s a tremendous credit to this highly skilled hospital staff that I was treated and released in under an hour.

Almost as soon as my gurney rolled to its spot, Dr. Larry Bookman appeared from behind the curtain, examined the joint in question and broke the news, a torn ACL. He paged the orthopaedic surgeon on call to consult. Next, I was wheeled over to Diagnostic Imaging just across the hall; radiologic technologist Terry Krueger performed an X-ray to rule out a fracture. I returned to my spot and was soon met by Dr. Greg Sarin, who confirmed the diagnosis.

I could have been sent for an MRI, but as it was getting late in the day, we opted to schedule it for the following week. I was discharged from the ED at 4:55 p.m., having spent a grand total of 52 minutes there on a very busy Friday afternoon.

My visit occurred several months before I became an employee at YVMC. I regret that I did not write a “thank you” to the staff, congratulating them on the friendly and efficient care I received. Numerous other patients have taken the time to express their appreciation in writing.

“Having to visit a hospital during a ski vacation is not what you plan for,” writes a parent from Georgia. “My family was lucky to be served by the great staff at Yampa Valley Medical Center.”

“I have served on hospital boards and medical school advisory boards. I know hospitals,” a Louisiana patient writes. “The moment I entered your ER, I was treated in the finest fashion. Please express my deep gratitude to your excellent physicians and staff – they are the best.”

Patient feedback such as this earned YVMC’s Emergency Department the Five Star Service Emergency Care Award from Avatar International. This company, which conducts patient satisfaction surveys for 250 hospitals nationwide, presented YVMC with the award in May 2007.

In order to achieve this designation, a hospital must demonstrate consistent experiences of service quality. The award identifies YVMC as one of the top two hospitals in Avatar’s national database in this category.

This level of service doesn’t just happen. The YVMC ED team has emergency care down to a science and an art. It is a seamless effort that begins before a patient’s arrival with emergency responders such as the Steamboat Ski Patrol. This proficient pre-hospital care is followed by the fluent choreography of the ED staff.

For the second half of this two-part series on emergency care, look for next week’s Monday Medical column Jan. 7. We will explore the specifics of how YVMC’s ED team excels in its field, offering quality medical care in a personal, professional, efficient manner.

Riley Polumbus is communications specialist at Yampa Valley Medical Center.