Volusia EMS hires nurse to stay at ED to speed up patient transfers
The registered nurse assumes patient care from the EMS crew, which allows them a prompt return to service
Mary Helen Moore
The Daytona Beach News-Journal
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Volusia County has put a nurse at Halifax Health Medical Center during the week to help ease the demand on EMS and hospital staff amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The nurse has been working five days a week at the Daytona Beach hospital since October.
"The concept is to have a registered nurse assigned to the emergency department that assumes patient care from the prehospital ambulance crew, which allows them a prompt return to service in lieu of waiting at the hospital to transfer care to the hospital staff," Volusia County spokesman Kevin Captain explained.
"When there is a patient surge in a hospital emergency department and especially during the pandemic, it can slow down the amount of time it takes to off-load a patient," Halifax Health spokesman John Guthrie said. "This makes it possible for the EMS truck to be back out on the road for the public.
Staffing the position for a year would cost about $92,000, according to figures provided by the county.
The money is coming from the $107.5 million received under the American Rescue Plan Act, the Biden administration's federal COVID relief package.
Volusia County Councilwoman Heather Post said she didn't think it was an appropriate use of tax dollars.
"I'm really not comfortable with the county spending monies on something that is the hospital's responsibility," she said during Tuesday's meeting. "Not OK."
The county began exploring the "nurse off-load" program in August and offered to pilot the program at both Halifax Health-Daytona Beach and AdventHealth-Orange City.
"We are always open to partnering with our municipalities to provide the best care possible," Guthrie said.
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Captain said there are sometimes delays in transferring patients, largely due to constraints on space and clinical capacity.
"These episodic situations occur in hospitals nationally, and in particular, they have been exacerbated by surges of the COVID-19 pandemic," Captain said by email.
Halifax Health Medical Center gets more EMS-transported patients than any other area hospital.
"This is largely based on the fact that Halifax Health has the highest level of stroke care, the only trauma center in the area and the most extensive pediatric care," Guthrie said.
"In addition, last year other area hospitals requested over 3,000 transfers for patients only Halifax Health could provide."