WILLMAR, Minn. (January 19, 2018) – What used to be a somewhat rare occurrence in the Emergency Room at Rice Memorial Hospital has quickly grown into a common medical situation that has put patients and staff at risk. The problem is potentially violent patients needing emergency care.
“The problem has spiked in recent years because of synthetic cannabinoids,” Dr. Flowe explained. “These new designer drugs, with street names like “fake weed,” K2, and spice, are manufactured using chemicals that can be sprayed on plant material and smoked, or sold as liquids so they can be vaporized and inhaled.”
The effects of these new mind-altering chemicals can be unpredictable, resulting in patients who are not only in need of immediate medical attention, but may also be psychotic, combative, and dangerous.
In 2014, when this trend was just beginning to emerge locally, Rice established a Violence Prevention Task Force and collaborated with other healthcare institutions across the state to assess the risk of violence, adopt recording and reporting standards, train employees, and equip security personnel to respond appropriately to incidences of violence.
“Rice has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to identifying trends and addressing community needs,” said Shirley Carter, Executive Director of the Rice Health Foundation. “By making these necessary changes to our Emergency Department now, we will continue to provide quality care, while at the same time, protect the safety of our patients and staff.”
Planned renovations for the E.R. include:
- Removing walls and other physical barriers to allow staff to clearly observe patients and visitors in the waiting area.
- Improving patient flow to minimize contact between patients who are arriving at the E.R. vs. patients who are leaving.
- Relocating the Security office closer to the Emergency Department.
- Relocating the medication dispensing machine from the waiting area to a more secured location so patients can receive their medication and instructions in private.
Rice Health Foundation is raising $550,000 to help fund the renovations. Half that amount has already been raised, primarily from proceeds of the Foundation’s Annual Gala, which took place on November 10. The campaign has another $273,000 to go before renovations will proceed later this year.
“We’re very proud of the work we do here and the level of care we’re able to provide,” said Flowe. “This is just one more example of Rice addressing a local need and the community joining in to help solve it.”
Gifts to the Emergency Services campaign can be made online at RiceHealthFoundation.org. Donations can also be made by telephone at 320.231.4141, or by mail: Rice Health Foundation, 301 Becker Ave SW, Willmar, MN 56201.