Emergency Medicine – A Critical Component in the Health of Southwest Baltimore

We see a level of acuity in our Emergency Department patients that would be unusual for a suburban hospital,” Dr. Parkes, a surgeon at Bon Secours who supports Bon
Secours’ Emergency Department, explains. “One time I unwound a bandaged foot of a patient and their toe just dropped off,” he says. “You won’t find that type of acuity outside the urban arena.”

In addition to the trauma cases, Bon Secours’ Emergency Department continues to see cases of untreated wounds and chest or abdominal pain coming through its doors. Conditions such as hypertension and diabetes, which are especially prevalent in the residents of Southwest Baltimore, can lead to heart and kidney problems that bring patients to the Emergency Department. The majority of cases, however, stem from two major problems: many patients don’t have health insurance or a primary care provider; and because of lack of regular medical care most patients wait until they are really sick before they seek care.

Dr. Parkes moved to Baltimore and joined Bon Secours’ team of physicians in 1987. “At Bon Secours, it’s more like family,” Dr. Parkes says. “They embrace you as a person and people work well together. I stay here for a lot of reasons, mostly because I feel that I’m helping people and a population that is really in need.”

“We go the extra mile here. We try to do right by people. Not only while patients are in the hospital, but also when they are released. Many of our patients don’t have anyone to care for them when they get home. No one will get their medication or make sure they stay in bed with an injured limb elevated. Bon Secours tries to provide support for them after they walk out the door. If they need help in some other way, I refer them to the programs at Bon Secours of Maryland Foundation.” Dr. Parkes continues, “The [Bon Secours of Maryland] Foundation tries to address the myriad problems that affect our community. They’ve rehabbed houses in the neighborhood so people can stay in the neighborhood and live in quality apartments with dignity. They work with people to improve their lives in so many ways—Emergency Medicine from career development to GED programs.”

“That’s just the way the Sisters have always been…doing the best with what we have to work with and really help the community. So I don’t just work here—I donate my money and my time to the many Bon Secours programs.”

Moving Ahead

Emergency Departments generally represent over 45% of national hospital admissions. At Bon Secours, however, that percentage is almost double at 85%. “We are the front door to the hospital,” explains Matt Ansel, Executive Director, Emergency Services, Bon Secours Baltimore Health System.

As the entry point for so many patients, it is imperative that our Emergency Department operate at peak efficiency. With the upcoming health care reform, Bon Secours is bracing for a new set of challenges. “My biggest concern going forward,” says Douglas Mayo, M.D., Emergency Department Chairman, “is how the new systems will impact the number of primary care providers available to our patient base. With a diminished capacity for primary care, the Emergency Department will see an increase in the volume of patients. We have focused a great deal of effort in the past year in trying to see patients more quickly by changing Triage Protocols,” explains Dr. Mayo. The improvement has been dramatic.

Continuing to improve the care in the Emergency Department will be a challenge…one which can’t be solved in the ED alone. The programs and services of the Bon Secours Maryland Foundation are critical to improving the care that patients receive. Healthy living conditions, improved diet and nutrition information, assistance with continuing education and access to jobs and training, activities for youth—all of these help elevate the quality of life for area residents. Bon Secours Baltimore Health System and the Bon Secours Maryland Foundation remain committed to working hand-in-hand to move forward in creating a healthier Southwest Baltimore neighborhood.