A Model for System Collaboration

Providing the highest level of patient care is at the center of the Albany Med Health System’s mission. The recent establishment of the Albany Med Health System Access Center aims to meet that mission while using a strength of the System to address a pressing issue.

“All the hospitals within the Albany Med Health System get multiple calls every day from across the region,” said Diane Gaylord, BSN, RN, CCM, director of access capacity and demand management at Saratoga Hospital. “Previously, there was no way to organize those calls on a System-wide basis and prioritize by patient condition and need.”

Nursing and physician leaders from each System hospital determined that a single access center would benefit not only hospitals and other facilities looking to transfer patients, but also the System hospitals accepting those patients.

The establishment of the Access Center expedites the transfer process and gets patients to the care they need, by allowing real-time information on bed capacity to be communicated. “We report the number of beds available every day,” Gaylord said, “and determine which open bed is the best match for each patient. That keeps patients from waiting for treatment at one facility if they can get it immediately at another.”

For example, a Saratoga Hospital patient with a very serious injury can be transferred to Albany Medical Center for care, while another patient still recovering from routine surgery can receive care at another hospital within the System that may be closer to their home.

“We’ve seen an increase in patients who go to Albany Medical Center for a procedure and return to Columbia Memorial the same day,” said Stephanie Hisgen, chief nursing officer and vice president of patient and clinical services at Columbia Memorial Health. “It’s a great benefit to our patients, who can recover near home with confidence that we can provide them with the post-procedure care they need.”

Gaylord works closely with colleagues Hisgen, Amanda Wing, nurse manager, logistics center and float pool at Glens Falls Hospital; Lin Murray, manager of the System Access Center; and Ashley Telisky, DO, medical director of the System Access Center. Physician leaders from each System hospital provide their knowledge and expertise to determine the best course of treatment and transfer option for a patient.

“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,” Wing said. “Care teams know the specialized needs of the patients and how best to help them the moment they arrive.”

The early successes of the Access Center are a tribute to each hospital and the role each plays in their respective community.

“Our patients trust us,” Dr. Telisky said. “They 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 many ways the System will continue to collaborate to improve patient care.”