Blue Ridge Regional Hospital Emergency Department Cuts Wait Times

Spruce Pine, N.C. (March 10, 2016) – Blue Ridge Regional Hospital’s emergency department staff has been working hard to decrease the time it takes for patients to be seen by a doctor. Earlier this year, staff rolled out an initiative called NurseFirst, which has led to significant improvements and shorter wait times for patients.

NurseFirst is a process in which patient access staff and emergency department nurses work together to rapidly assess and register patients who wish to see an emergency department physician. Historically, registration and nurse assessment has occurred separately, which led to delays in being evaluated by a physician. The NurseFirst process creates an environment where both registration and assessment occur simultaneously, greatly reducing the time it takes for patients to be seen by a physician.

In January 2015, the average patient was placed in a room 22 minutes after arrival. However, within one week of implementing the NurseFirst program in January 2016, the average time it took for a patient to be placed in a room was down to four minutes. During that same period in January 2016, patients were seen by a physician 68 minutes after arrival. With the implementation of the NurseFirst program, patients are now seen by a physician within 24 minutes.

“During the first week that NurseFirst was implemented at Blue Ridge Regional Hospital, a patient expressed her amazement at how quickly and efficiently she was registered and triaged,” said Megan McKinney, Blue Ridge Regional Hospital Emergency Department Manager. ”She felt like a VIP!” 

About Blue Ridge Regional Hospital

Blue Ridge Regional Hospital (BRRH) is a not-for-profit community hospital serving Mitchell, Yancey, lower Avery and upper McDowell counties. Located in Spruce Pine, North Carolina, the hospital is licensed for 46 beds and has about 410 employees, including 82 RNs. Cleverley & Associates has recognized BRRH as a Community Value 5-Star Hospital for 10 consecutive years. Medical specialties offered by BRRH include emergency services, OB services, critical care, rehabilitation services and fitness center, cancer services, orthopedics, general surgical services, pain management, pediatrics and family medicine. BRRH is a member of Mission Health, a Top 15 Health System. For more information, please visit 

About Mission Health

Mission Health, based in Asheville, North Carolina, is the state’s sixth-largest health system and the region’s only not-for-profit, independent community hospital system governed and managed exclusively in western North Carolina. Mission Health has been recognized as one of the nation’s Top 15 Health Systems 2012-2015 by Truven Health Analytics, formerly Thomson Reuters. Mission Health is the only health system in the nation to receive this recognition four years in a row, and the only health system in North Carolina to achieve Top 15 recognition.

Mission Health, which traces its roots in the region back to 1885, operates six hospitals, numerous outpatient and surgery centers, post-acute care provider CarePartners, long-term acute care provider Asheville Specialty Hospital and the region’s only dedicated Level II trauma center. Its medical staff consists of more than 1,000 physicians and is certified in more than 50 medical specialties and sub-specialties. Mission Health has seven Centers of Excellence: Cancer, Heart, Mission Children’s Hospital, Neurosciences, Orthopedics, Trauma and Women’s Health. Mission Hospital, located in Asheville, is the system’s flagship hospital and is licensed for 763 beds. It is the regional referral center for tertiary and quaternary care. It also includes Mission Children’s Hospital – the region’s only children’s hospital. Other Mission Health member hospitals include Angel Medical Center in Franklin, Blue Ridge Regional Hospital in Spruce Pine, Highlands-Cashiers Hospital in Highlands, McDowell Hospital in Marion and Transylvania Regional Hospital in Brevard. With approximately 10,700 employees and 2,000 volunteers, Mission Health is dedicated to improving the health and wellness of the people of western North Carolina. For more information, please visit or @MissionHealthNC.

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