The University Record, May 7, 2001

Health System opens unit for ER patients who need extra care

By Kara Gavin
Health System Public Relations

Health System patients who need extra hours of care or observation after a medical emergency—but don’t necessarily need to be admitted to the hospital—now have a specialized area of their own.

A new 16-bed unit in the University Hospital’s Emergency Department serves adult and pediatric patients who need follow-up after seeing emergency physicians for chest pains, abdominal pain, dehydration, asthma attacks and other conditions.

Dubbed MEDPATH, for Michigan Emergency Department Patient Assessment and Treatment Hub, the unit holds patients for up to 24 hours, until physicians either recommend they be discharged or admitted to the hospital.

Created as part of the renovation of the Emergency Department, it replaces the former three-bed Chest Pain Center.

“Often, it takes time for a medical emergency to play out. This unit will allow us to give patients our full attention for diagnosis and further treatment, and will offer them a comfortable place to wait for symptoms to lessen or for medical decisions to be made,” says Steve Kronick, MEDPATH director and an attending physician in the Department of Emergency Medicine.

MEDPATH’s private rooms feature televisions, telephones, visitor chairs and more comfortable stretchers than those found in the main Emergency Department. For pediatric patients, cribs and special sleeping furniture for caregivers are available.

The unit is set apart from the main Emergency Department, with a staff of nurses, a technician and a physician’s assistant on duty at all times and an attending physician always available. During morning hours, a physician makes rounds to see patients who came to the unit the previous evening and night, and to assess whether they should go home, have surgery or be admitted.

MEDPATH patients have their vital signs and heart function monitored continuously, have diagnostic tests performed, or undergo minor procedures. Patients with suspected blood clots in their leg veins or potential pneumonia get specialized care.