NEXT NORMAL: East Texas ER utilizes drive-through operation

Next Normal ER

LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - It’s not that unusual to see a tent outside of a hospital or clinic these days, put up to minimize potential exposure to a virus. We visit an East Texas hospital’s ER to find out how outdoor admission or treatment works in the Next Normal.

CHRISTUS Good Shepherd Northpark’s ER just doesn’t look like it used to. Clinical Director Frank Parker and Emergency Department Medical Director Dr. Faber White feel they have a good setup.

“There’s a large awning to protect you from the elements and it just works well here,” White said.

“We feel that it’s very convenient,” Parker stated.

A potential patient pulling up in a car is waved in.

“So when a patient drives up they’ll be greeted by a medical professional who will quickly determine the reason for their visit; why they’re here,” White explained.

“We do have clinic visitors coming in as well, so we kind of separate there: the clinic from the emergency department,” Parker clarified.

The drive up emergency patient is then directed forward.

“You go to this spot right here where you get evaluated by a nurse; get your medical screening done by a physician or a nurse at that point,” Parker said.

The whole thing looks like it came about because of the pandemic, but they say that’s not the case.

“We had thought about it prior to COVID. It maybe got a little more fuel after this COVID,” Parker said.

The setup keeps reduces the number of people going in the building, however:

“If the patient showed up and say, they’re having chest pain or abdominal pain then that’s something that would not be appropriate to be evaluated fully out here because they’re going to need more extensive testing. Or if there’s a procedure like a laceration repair,” White explained.

“And if it’s a simple problem then they may never need to exit their vehicle at all. We can finish the whole process out here,” White stated.

Like someone concerned they may have strep. The swab can be taken through the car window. It can also be helpful in a family situation:

“For the mother or the patient, if the patient is a child, to be treated in the car without having to get strollers out and the kids out of car seats,” Parker said.

And insurance information can also be taken outside.

“It’s a little more complicated, but it can be done,” Parker added.

It may not be permanent, but for now it’s the Next Normal.

Dr. Parker says as far as the inside of the ER, they are aware that many of those entering the hospital have the potential of being more susceptible to infection. So they go to great lengths to keep it clean.

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