The patient count at Biggs-Gridley Memorial Hospital's Emergency Department has grown considerably in the past three years since the community took the hospital back and new services and equipment have been added.
The monthly census is up to nearly 700 per month and 70 percent of the in-patient census is due to the ER.
RN Ruthie Callaway, no stranger to Gridley, the hospital, or the ER is now the ER Supervisor, a job she is very excited about. It is her primary duty to make sure that the wait time is minimal with patients being taken to the ER quickly and to fill med-surg beds if the ER rooms are full to keep up with the flow.
The BGMH ER is a busy place with everything from heart attacks, strokes, gunshots, stabbings to coughs and colds.
"We never know what is going to come through the door," she said. "We had eight or ten trauma cases in September alone,"Callaway said.
With trauma care, once resuscitation is completed the ER staff advises medical staff on their continued care for the remainder of their time at the hospital.
The ER never closes as patients are seen 24 hours a day with each shift covered by one physician, two RN's and a Physician's Assistant. A new Emergency Department will break ground next summer which will have six trauma rooms and two triage rooms each equipped with state-of-the-art equipment such as in Radiology and the Lab. The new ER will have it's own entranceway for more private access and will contain a catscan unit in the actual location of the current ramp and CT trailer on the east side of the hospital with the additional 6,386 sq. ft. actually added to the front of the hospital.
Callaway remembers the days of the ER seeing 380 to 400 patients per month compared to the 680 now.
"People travel from all over to come here. They are bypassing other hospitals because they know they will be seen here quicker," Callaway said.
"We had one patient this week who took the Butte County Transit Bus from Paradise because of our speed and care," she said.
"Communication is huge with patients. It is important to explain where they are in the process. We give out educational materials to each and every patient," Callaway said.
Page 2 of 2 - Callaway not only has worked at BGMH for eleven years, she was also born there and was raised in Gridley. She has received her ATLS (Advanced Trauma Life Support) and PALS certificate along with her TNCC (Trauma Nurse Core Course). There are many advantages to having an ER Supervisor who already works with the physicians and knows the staff well. Never really off duty, Callaway sleeps with the phone next to her bed so that physician's can call with questions or if she is needed to come back in when the ER is full.
An important part of the job is to make sure that patients in the lobby understand the expected wait time because trauma cases can be brought in by ambulance at any time, possibly making the wait time a little longer.
Of course being an RN means there are particularly heart breaking cases in an ER and emotions run high especially for the families as the nurses have to stay on track.
As a Supervisor, Callaway is constantly overseeing the entire ER whether it is labs and X-rays being done efficiently and quickly or making sure a patient is comfortable. The Supervisor must also watch to make sure the nurses are giving the correct care and in a timely fashion.