A Look At OU Medical Center's 'Emergency Screening Process'
OKLAHOMA CITY - OU Medical Center has a unique emergency room.
If your emergency is deemed not a true emergency, then you have to pay at the door or go somewhere else.
This is the only hospital in the state to do this, so what's the diagnosis?
Over the past two years, Tara Hendrix has been the one to break the news to ER patients at OU Medical Center.
If they don't have a real emergency, they can either pay $200 to stay or go somewhere else.
"They are surprised sometimes that they are expected to pay at the emergency room. They come in thinking they are able to get that care," said Hendrix, OU Medical ESP specialist.
It's called ESP, the "emergency screening process."
It starts when you walk in.
If it is an emergency, you're rushed back.
If you appear fine, you're evaluated by a nurse practitioner like Jennifer Parrott.
"You can usually tell pretty quick if they need acute care or not," said Parrott. "We have a lot of people who Google a lot of things."
A lot of patients will even come to the ER for a pregnancy or STD test.
If it's still not an emergency, that's when you see Hendrix.
OU Medical Center reports that since 2014, about 2,500 patients have been screened as non-urgent and left. The number of filed complaints is zero.
News 9 spoke to several clinics in the metro, and the few that had patients from OU do not recall hearing any complaints.
"Once they understand that they're safe and they're not in any danger, then they are generally grateful," said Hendrix.
ESP has also impacted wait times down from an average of 40 minutes to about 15 minutes.
OU Medical Center CEO Chuck Spicer and his staff are pleased.
"We've been able to take care of those people because some of the lesser acute patients haven’t been there and have really been there and obstacles to those who are really in need," said Spicer.
If you're curious what does qualify as a true emergency, OU Med has set up a list on its website.