UPMC’s Outpatient Emergency Department in Lock Haven Marks First Anniversary as Innovative Care Model

By: Tyler Wagner

On April 21, 2023, UPMC made a progressive decision to embrace a new innovative care model converting UPMC Lock Haven into the Commonwealth’s only Outpatient Emergency Department sanctioned by the Pennsylvania Department of Health. One year later, the new model is thriving and is a testament and hope for other rural hospitals facing similar challenges in ensuring quality healthcare services remain local.

“Reflecting on this past year, I am not sure we truly anticipated how positive the impact of this decision would be on both our patients and our employees,” said Ron Reynolds, president of UPMC Muncy and UPMC’s Lock Haven Operations. “This was not an easy decision to make, and we faced our fair share of skepticism and criticism. However, the accomplishments we have made in the time since speak volumes, all of which would not have been possible without the support and commitment of our employees to make this model work for their community.”

In the months leading up to the decision, UPMC worked collaboratively with state and local legislators, including the Governor, and state regulators to ensure the most appropriate and sustainable options for healthcare in this rural area were considered. The main goal was to ensure necessary services remained available by finding opportunities for efficiency, eliminating regionalized redundancies, and ensuring the most robust offerings were in place for outpatient services in the community.

In the time since conversion, the model is working as highlighted by improved key performance indicators:

  • · Job preservation with 90% of all affected staff retained within UPMC with many experiencing significant growth opportunities in their roles.

  • · Exemplary average wait times with patients consistently being seen by a provider within 30 minutes of arriving at the OED, and when necessary, transferring to a bed for a higher level of care within 90 minutes.

  • · Exponential improvement in patient experience and satisfaction scores.

Additionally, since opening the OED has received The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval and the American Stroke Association’s Heart-Check mark for Acute Stroke Ready Certification showing commitment and accountability to continuous improvement in patient safety and quality of care.

“Our OED is a full-service emergency department staffed 24 hours a day and seven days a week by specialty-trained emergency physicians, nurses, and support staff,” said Jeffrey Muenzer, MD, medical director of the Outpatient Emergency Department in Lock Haven and Emergency Department at UPMC Williamsport. “Our staff dedicates their time and talents to ensure we offer the best care possible locally, and none of this would be possible without them. While it may look a little different, this new model is for everyone’s benefit. We remain committed for the long-term to serving Lock Haven and the surrounding communities and ensuring high-quality emergency care is accessible and here when our community members need it.”