Harrison sees big increase in ER visits

Harrison Medical Center has seen a steep increase in ER visits at a time when hospitals are working to reduce patients’ dependence on emergency care.

The number of visits to Harrison’s emergency departments in Bremerton and Silverdale jumped from 67,965 in fiscal year 2014 to 79,950 in fiscal year 2015, an change of nearly 18 percent.

(Harrison’s fiscal year runs July through June.)

The Harrison ERs remained busy in the second half of 2015, receiving another 39,468 visits.

The increase in emergency department use was somewhat surprising given Harrison’s recent success in reducing preventable ER visits. 

It was also hoped the rollout of the Affordable Care Act and expansion of Medicaid would lower emergency department dependence, as more residents gained access to primary and specialty care. Only 5.6 percent of Kitsap residents lacked health insurance in 2014.

So why are ER visits still climbing at Harrison?

The hospital noted three possible factors in an email this week: 

I haven’t seen figures for how many emergency visits the Naval hospital received before the conversion, but the facility serves a large population. About 29,000 active-duty service members, retirees and their families are enrolled at the hospital.

  • There’s a shortage of primary care providers in Kitsap. Even as residents gain health coverage, they may still struggle to access care.

Harrison is launching a residency program over the next few years with the hopes of injecting more young doctors into Kitsap’s medical community.

One thought on “Harrison sees big increase in ER visits

  1. I also believe that because most people in Bremerton are on medicaid/medicare and the doctors around here either want to schedule those patients out 3 to 6 months (because they are soooooooooo busy) and many people dont feel they can wait that long to see a doctor or when the doctors do see them, nothing actually gets done about the problem. Perhaps that should be looked into an fixed so people who actually need the care can get it without going to a hospital.

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