The Albany Med Health System Transfer Center was created to address a significant challenge faced by hospitals across the country: Could we improve processes for transferring patients between institutions to guarantee access to appropriate higher-level care?
“All hospitals within the Albany Med Health System were getting multiple calls every day from across the region,” says Diane Gaylord, BSN, RN, CCM, director of access and capacity demand management at Saratoga Hospital. “There was no way to organize those calls and prioritize by patient acuity.”
Nursing and physician leaders from each System hospital determined that a single transfer center would benefit not only the facilities looking to transfer patients, but also the hospitals accepting those patients.
“It expedites transfers and thus decreases adverse events,” Gaylord says. “We’re able to guarantee the patient with a very serious injury gets a bed at Albany Med instead of the patient with an illness that can be treated at Saratoga Hospital.”
Gaylord works closely with her colleagues on the transfer team from other institutions within the System: Stephanie Hisgen, chief nursing officer and vice president of patient and clinical services at Columbia Memorial Health (CMH); Amanda Wing, BSN, RN, nurse manager, logistics center and float pool at Glens Falls Hospital (GFH); Lin Murray, manager of the Albany Med Health System Regional Transfer Center; and Ashley Telisky, DO, medical director of the Albany Med Health System Regional Transfer Center.
“We talk each day to report on bed availability,” Gaylord says, “and determine which open bed is the best match for each patient. That means patients aren’t waiting for treatment at one facility when they can get it immediately at another.”
The increased communication means representatives from each hospital can provide real-time information to their colleagues on bed capacity. Such teamwork is a powerful example of the benefits of collaboration within a health care system.
“We’ve seen an increase in patients who go to Albany Medical Center for a procedure and then return to CMH the same day,” Hisgen says. “It’s a great benefit to our patients, who can recover closer to home with confidence that we can provide them with the post-procedure care they need.”
Wing agrees. “Having a centralized hub allows us to determine which hospital is best for each patient based on their needs, and we’re able to provide more information to the other facilities than we were before. Care teams know the specialized needs of the patients they receive—and how best to help them as soon as they arrive.”
For Dr. Telisky, the success of the Transfer Center is a tribute to each hospital and the role they play in their community. “Our patients trust us. The know we’re all here for the same reason: to provide access to the high-quality care they need. This exciting project is one of the many ways the System will continue to collaborate to improve patient care.”