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ER patient load up 20%
New Medi-Cal enrollees spur increase
Visits to the emergency room at Doctors Hospital increased 16 percent in 2014 and are up 20 percent so far this year. - photo by HIME ROMERO/ The Bulletin

Business is booming at Doctors Hospital of Manteca’s emergency room.

The number of patients is up 20 percent so far this year after climbing 16 percent last year to hit 32,000.

Almost all of the increase is attributable to the Affordable Care Act that allowed 2.7 million more Californians to access Medi-Cal only to discover very few primary care physicians are accepting new Medi-Cal patients. The result has been a surge in people using emergency rooms throughout California as it is their only viable option. Ironically, the ACA’s intent was to reduce the use of ER rooms for non-life threatening maladies by providing people with access to insurance.

There are now 11.3 million Medi-Cal enrollees in California accounting for the bulk of in-hospital patients. At Doctors Hospital, 61 percent of inpatients are Medi-Cal enrollees and 29 percent of those visiting the emergency room have Medi-Cal insurance. and

Doctors Hospital Chief Executive Officer Nico Tejeda noted the ER staff bolstered by Tenet investments are not only meeting the challenge but have actually trimmed the time lapse from checking in to when an issue is resolved from 249 minutes on average in 2013 to 235 minutes in 2014.

Better yet, the San Joaquin County Emergency Services has noted Doctors Hospital’s ER has the best record of all hospitals in the county for processing a patient needing hospitalization for the past two years.

In 2014, there were 8,765 hours countywide at all hospital emergency rooms where patients had to be sent elsewhere due to the inability of the hospital they went to handle additional patients. Of those, only five hours or 0.05 percent of the overall total was attributable to Doctors Hospital.

Given that you may wonder why sometimes it seems like it takes forever to see medical staff when you check into the emergency room.

It’s because a protocol is followed that handles the patients with the most pressing and serious concerns — regardless of when they arrive — to make sure they are tended to first.

One way to reduce your waiting time in the ER is to go on-line and sign-in on the hospital’s website at and the InQuicker system.  You answer a short series of questions to make sure your concern isn’t a life or death matter — in which case you’ll be advised to come in immediately — and then assigns you a time. That way you can stay at home until your appointment time nears.

Tejeda said that way you are waiting in the comfort of your home and not as focused on the wait. It also avoids you from having to be in a waiting room with other people that may have contagious

“Sometimes if a more pressing case comes in you may have to wait longer but usually if you get there a few minutes before your appointed time you’ll be seen as scheduled.”

Last year, 1,600 of the 33,000 ER patients used InQuicker. It was among the highest for all of Tenet’s hospitals.

The website will also give you a constantly updated time for the average ER wait.

The top five reasons people visited the Doctors Hospital ER in 2014 were, in descending order, pains, coughs, fevers, rashes and sore throats.

Tejeda stressed staff is constantly looking at ways to provide the best possible medical care as quickly as possible in the emergency room.