The emergency department at Salem Hospital is a busy place—one of the busiest such departments on the West Coast, in fact.
Staffed and run by Salem Emergency Physicians Service (SEPS), an entity separate from Salem Hospital, the department provides care for thousands of patients across Marion and Polk counties. Operating as a “democratic physician partnership,” the providers who belong to SEPS are directly involved in its operations. The organization maintains a co-management agreement with Salem Hospital to run the emergency department. SEPS physicians are fully integrated into hospital operations and decision making, holding positions on a variety of committees and even the hospital board.
The organization itself is made up of close to 50 physicians and advanced practice providers, plus the administrator and executive assistant. With the largest catchment area in the state, SEPS providers are responsible for serving 350,000 individuals. The emergency department provides care for roughly 111,000 patients annually and an average of just over 310 patients per day.
“This is the busiest emergency department from Canada all the way to San Francisco, and maybe even as far as LA,” said SEPS Administrator Judy Carroll. “Our catchment area is so much larger than any [department’s] in Portland and I think it’s sometimes easy for people to forget that.”
Salem Hospital employs more than 4,000 individuals and is designated as a Level II Trauma Center, which means they can provide guaranteed, specialized care for any patient, at any time of day. The SEPS providers who work in the hospital cover all manner of disciplines and hail from all corners of the globe. Living in the Pacific Northwest themselves, Salem residents may not always realize how effectively the positive reputations of the region and the hospital attract talented providers.
“We draw excellent candidates. All of our physicians are emergency medicine board certified/eligible and come from top performing, diverse training programs nationwide, which is a benefit because these are the candidates who are used to a high acuity, fast-paced environment,” Carroll said.
A BC+S client since 2008, SEPS has experienced major growth in the past decade. And as the organization has grown, so too has its ability to treat patients efficiently. Recently, SEPS worked with Salem Hospital to expand the structure housing the emergency department. The providers aimed to reduce wait times and capture more of the patients who left their department without being seen or treated.
“The idea behind the expansion was that our waiting time was longer than we would have liked,” Carroll explained. “There were enough physicians and nurses to treat patients, but not enough rooms to see patients in. We were using hall beds to see patients, which was dissatisfying for both patients and clinical staff.”
Carroll said the expansion, which opened February 15, 2018, has already made a marked difference in the flow of patients and ability of the providers to offer effective care. Additions like the assessment lounge, where patients now wait to follow up with a provider, allow for smoother transitions and greater comfort.
“When patients come in,” Carroll explained, “they’re now roomed much quicker than before and get seen much sooner.”
SEPS is committed to helping its patients—both in and out of the emergency department. SEPS provides additional support to a variety of local and regional groups, including prominent organizations like the Marion-Polk Food Share, NW Senior & Disability Services, Salem Free Clinics, Liberty House and the Ronald McDonald House Charities.
Carroll noted that community support has long been a component of SEPS’s mission. Since its inception in 1973, SEPS has been dedicated to the holistic health of its patients. While the organization’s name may not be widely recognized in the Salem area, the effects of SEPS’s involvement in the community certainly are.
For more information about SEPS and the providers who comprise it, visit their website or call (503) 814-1278.
If you are a medical provider interested in learning more about tax rules pertaining to your field, payroll options, retirement plans or financial planning, contact your local BC+S office today. With decades of experience working with excellent providers and groups like SEPS, our CPAs recognize and understand the unique financial challenges facing those in the medical industry.