Healdsburg’s Wetzel Family Emergency Department: 5 Years of Successful Emergent Care in Rural Setting

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5 years ago, Healdsburg District Hospital (HDH, healdsburgdistricthospital.org) completed its emergency department expansion and opened the Wetzel Family Emergency Department. Emergency care at rural hospitals plays a vital role in saving the lives of residents who would otherwise have to travel far for specialist care, and as the only fully equipped emergency department (ED) located between Santa Rosa and Ukiah, HDH’s ED provides emergent care to more than 10,000 patients each year.

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HDH’s ongoing efforts to optimize care at Wetzel Family Emergency Department through the implementation of the latest technologies and structural renovations has led to exceptional patient outcomes.

Healdsburg District Hospital, an award-winning hospital set in beautiful North Sonoma County, is proud to announce the fifth year anniversary of the Wetzel Family Emergency Department. In 2006, Harry and Maggie Wetzel, whose family founded Alexander Valley Vineyards in 1975, donated $2 million to the Healthcare Foundation Northern Sonoma County for HDH. The money went to the construction of the emergency department, which would not have been possible without the generous contribution.

Expert emergency care is important at every hospital, but it is especially vital at hospitals in rural areas, where rural residents, lacking a fully equipped emergency department at their closest hospital, would have to travel great distances for emergency care. The North Sonoma County Healthcare District is extremely grateful for the specialized services that the Wetzel Family ED has brought to the area, including cardiac catheterization, general and trauma surgery, critical care, neurological evaluation, anesthesia, and other lifesaving care. Without these services, people facing life-threatening injuries or cardiac arrest north of Windsor would have an additional 15 or 20 minutes of transfer time added before they could expect to see an emergency physician.

Not only does the Wetzel Family ED bring intensive emergency care closer to home for North Sonoma County Residents, it also helps combat the national crisis of emergency room overcrowding. Crucial problems that result from overcrowding include longer door-to-needle times for suspected heart attack patients, overworked and rushed physicians, as well as prolonged agony for patients in pain from accidental injuries, among others. The national average for time spent waiting in an emergency room before being seen by a physician is over 4 hours. With 8 spacious treatment rooms at the Wetzel Family ED, HDH has been able to see patients on average of only 20 minutes or less.

Patients are treated in order according to the seriousness of their health crises, and with an overall average wait time of only 30 minutes to see a physician, HDH’s ED provides rapid care to patients in dire need, without keeping patients with less serious injuries waiting for hours on end. When Don Peters, a Santa Rosa resident, went into cardiac arrest at a church in Healdsburg, physicians at the Wetzel Family ED were able to intervene within minutes to provide lifesaving care.

Mr. Peters expresses his gratitude for the Wetzel Family ED, “When I came back to consciousness, my doctor explained to me what had happened. The type of heart attack I had is gloomily referred to as the ‘widow maker,’ since only about 10% of people survive it. I’m truly blessed to have arrived at HDH, where the quality of care enabled me to overcome the odds and make a full recovery.”

To further increase the quality of emergent care available for north Sonoma County residents, the ED at HDH now also features 21st-century technology that enables physicians to receive diagnostic results, as well as expert consultations, rapidly and accurately. For patients that arrive at the ED and require extended care, HDH’s ICU is equipped with robotic telemedicine, which significantly enhances the quality of care by enabling intensive care specialists to access HDH’s ICU through a remote presence monitor and to analyze patient conditions. As the first hospital in California to implement robotic telemedicine to save more lives and improve patient care, HDH has been able to lower costs for both patients and the hospital while producing great patient results.

In keeping with a hundred year tradition of providing quality healthcare, HDH’s ongoing efforts to optimize care at Wetzel Family Emergency Department through the implementation of the latest technologies and structural renovations has led to exceptional patient outcomes. In recent years, HDH has received a variety of awards and recognitions from 3rd party organizations, including 5-Star ratings from Healthgrades for excellence in Orthopedic care, as well as the Exceeding Patient Expectations award from Avatar International 4 years in a row.

Healdsburg District Hospital serves as the first-line inpatient, outpatient, and emergency care facility for the 60,000 residents of Windsor, Healdsburg, Geyserville, Cloverdale and the surrounding areas of northern Sonoma County, California. With Centers of Excellence offering innovative services in wound care, neurology, pulmonary medicine, occupational health, specialty stroke care, geriatrics, orthopedics, radiology, and emergency/urgent care among many others, Healdsburg District Hospital exceeds the standards of conventional healthcare.

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Marie Giammona
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