Transfers to Wolfson Children’s Hospital just got about six times faster thanks to a new system that better coordinates intakes and transports from locations outside Jacksonville.
Historically, Wolfson – which is part of the Baptist Health network – has received patients from other medical facilities within a 350-mile radius that lack the level of care and resources that Wolfson offers. Previously, outside doctors had to go through a multi-step process with a maze of phone calls to get permission to send patients from other ERs to Wolfson Children’s Hospital before Wolfson could dispatch its Kids Mobile ICU (and ambulance staffed by pediatric specialists) or a Life Flight helicopter to the location.
The process could take as long as 30 minutes – time that can be critical in life-threatening situations. As of this week, Wolfson began contracting with a third-party vendor, Omaha-based DirectCall, that cuts the referral process down to five minutes or less, according to Dennis Morales, an administrative fellow with Baptist who helped implement the system.
“We were bouncing calls back and forth between the doctors, and now it’s just one call to get all the information we need,” said Veronica Scott-Fulton, vice president of operations and patient care services for Wolfson Children’s Hospital. “It is a lot more efficient.”
Since the system was rolled out on Monday, Wolfson has transported 17 children for care at the center via the new system.
The pediatric hospital typically sees hundreds of critically ill kids from outlying counties of Northeast Florida but also takes patients from as far as Tallahassee, Lake City, Pensacola, southern Georgia, and even North Carolina.
Baptist’s new Stroke & Cerebrovascular Center, which opened in June, also uses DirectCall to expedite the transport of patients from across the region presenting with such conditions as strokes or brain aneurysms.
The Jacksonville health network hopes to have the referral system in use at all four of its other hospital locations by the end of the year, said Michael Mayo, hospital president for Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville.
The cost of the service, which is based on the volume of calls, is well worth it, according to Morales. “It’s less than it would be if we built a transfer center in-house,” Morales said. Another benefit to using the outside vendor is that all calls are recorded and saved electronically. “So if there is ever any question if a transfer was not handled properly or denied we have a record we can go back and look at,” Mayo said.