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Northwestern Medicine Palos Hospital Discharge Lounge provides smoother transition home

Convenient pick-up for discharged patients relieves crowding and improves access

Northwestern Medicine Palos Hospital Discharge LoungePALOS HEIGHTS, Ill. -  Getting discharged from a hospital can be stressful on a patient and their family. Northwestern Medicine Palos Hospital recognizes this and created a new Discharge Lounge to provide a smoother transition home, improve patient throughput, and relieve Emergency Department crowding.

Patients who have been medically cleared to leave the hospital are moved to the Discharge Lounge within the hospital as they wait for their ride home. The care area offers private rooms, comfortable recliners, TVs, snacks and direct access to the front drive of the hospital. Families can pull up to the Discharge Lounge door with no circling in the parking lot to find a space.

The Discharge Lounge has reduced the average 4-hour discharge process to under an hour at Palos Hospital. It is a significant improvement as any delay discharging an inpatient causes a ripple effect that leads to additional back-ups in the Emergency Department.

“Throughput in a hospital is key to the patient experience. Improving the transition of patients ready to go home allows the acutely ill patients being treated in the Emergency Department to move into an open bed much sooner,” said Thomas J. Moran, MD, vice president and chief medical officer, Northwestern Medicine Palos Hospital. “Since the Discharge Lounge was put in place, we have had minimal holds in the Emergency Department.”

Palos Hospital has seen a 49% reduction in patients leaving the emergency department without being seen since launching the Discharge Lounge; and patient satisfaction scores in both the inpatient and emergency department have improved.

“When it is time to go home, patients are eager to be on their way and families enjoy not having to park and then walk back up to the patient floors,” said Rebecca Murphy, DNP, vice president of operations, Northwestern Medicine Palos Hospital. “Our physicians typically round in the mornings to clear patients. The lounge is a great solution for patients whose families or transport may not be able to get them right away.”

The Discharge Lounge, located just off the front entrance of Northwestern Medicine Palos Hospital, is open Monday thru Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. It is located within the Center for Short Stay Care and is staffed by nurses and patient care technicians. Assisted devices are available as needed.

The lounge opened in December of 2022. It was an idea that came out of urgent need. Dr. Moran, Rebecca Murphy and Chief Nursing Executive Ellie Kruk were looking at an emergency department holding 40 admitted patients, a full hospital and nowhere to move. The decision was made to open the discharge lounge on the fly. An area was identified, teams where activated, and patients started to move.

“It took everyone being on board to make it happen and it worked,” said Ellie Kruk, BSN, vice president and chief nursing executive, Northwestern Medicine Palos Hospital. “Since that day, the lounge has become a permanent fixture at Palos Hospital.”

PHOTO CAPTION: Jessica Halal, RN, checks in on Henry DeBose Sr., of Harvey, Ill., as he waits comfortably for his ride home in the Northwestern Medicine Palos Hospital Discharge Lounge.