Dr. Biggers focusing on big plans for HMC’s Emergency Department


Often times the first glimpse a person has of a hospital is through a visit to the emergency room.  More times than not, that visit is prefaced with the onset of an event that is either life threatening. life changing,  or the very least, serious.  The word ‘emergency’ means a sudden crisis requiring attention.  In the worst case scenario a healthcare emergency is critical enough to involve multi-levels of healthcare professionals whether they are First responders, ambulance personnel, air ambulance services, or other members of Fire and Rescue agencies. During an emergency, the medical attention given to a patient moves to a whole new level.

Hardin Medical Center’s Emergency Department (HMC ED) has been taking care of patients in emergency situations for over 62 years. The medical personnel on staff in the HMC ED have chosen that particular area of the hospital to work because of the nature of the environment. Every emergency requires quick-thinking, efficient people that know how to work together in emergency situations thereby assuring patients are taken care of quickly or in the event a different level of care is needed, they must know how to coordinate the transition of care. The emergency department at Hardin Medical Center strives to always do what is best for the patient.

Late last year, longtime ED physician, Dr. James Biggers, Jr. became the new HMC Emergency Department Medical Director. Dr. Biggers has been on the physician staff of the ED since 2007.  Dr. Biggers has many goals for continuing to improve the HMC Emergency Department which include systematic and comprehensive application of proven techniques to shorten wait times to see the doctor, improve overall length of stay in the ED, and streamline transitions of care for HMC hospital admissions. “We will also reach out to local clinics for better connectivity and continuity of care. Ultimately we want to provide the ED experience we would all want for our own families,” said Dr. Biggers.

Dr. Biggers points out that achieving higher standards for the ED is not something that is an instantaneous process. “We will focus on each task one-at-a-time. The process is dynamic and will require flexibility to change. In order for change to occur, a positive attitude is a necessary,” he added.

Dr. Biggers is quick to put the spotlight on the nursing staff and supporting services which both have a very low turnover rate and serves to stabilize the department as a whole. Dr. Biggers points out, “The physician ED staff is becoming more constant with fewer temporary physicians than ever before. Having this synergy allows goals to be reached in a more timely fashion by our team.”

“Achieving the necessary synergy within the HMC Emergency Department is only possible through working as a coordinated group with a network that consists of HC Emergency Medical Services, First Responders, Air-Evac, Hospital Wing and other air ambulance services,” said Dr. Biggers. 

In addition to the support services necessary for the success of a great Emergency Department, Hardin Medical Center is accredited by DNV an authorized agent of CMS Medicare and Medicaid Services. Emergency Care for cancer patients is coordinated with The Darryl Worley Cancer Treatment Center. HMC Wound Care Services helps coordinate the care for many of our emergent wound patients and burn patients through outpatient management.  QUINCO is utilized for Psychiatric Services if needed. The HMC ED staff supports and works closely with the Carl Perkins Center for the care and prevention of child abuse. 

In order for all of these groups to work together efficiently toward treating our patients, good processes, checklists, and protocols must be in place. “We have Medical Informatics, ED Metrics, and National Benchmarks that are reviewed monthly. We compare data from other facilities like HMC ED with regard to like size and overall national averages. Facility statistical measures and individual physician performances are studied and tracked. Each provider is responsible not only to the patient, but also to Hardin Medical Center and multiple local and federal agencies.  Our goal at HMC ED is to identify how others meet performance measures, and then see how we can apply their successes to our facility’s individual needs. This is a proven method that ultimately leads to better patient satisfaction and better community service,” said Dr. Biggers.

Every day on the news there are stories of natural disasters or accidents that destroy entire towns which cause the need for large scale patient treatment. It is great to known our local ED is prepared for such an occurrence. Just how does a small town ED prepare, you ask? “Practice. Practice. Practice. We have frequent, non-scheduled Disaster Drills that are coordinated with Hardin County EMS to test our systems. Just a few of the drill scenarios we have practiced in the past are multi-car crash pile-ups, a large industrial explosion, tornados with mass injuries, mass poisonings, and even a Bioterrorism Attack just to name a few,” Dr. Biggers reported.

Being prepared is key to the success of any goal. The ED at Hardin Medical Center is constantly striving for improvement under the direction of Dr. Biggers. Although there are larger hospitals within an hour of the HMC ED,  Dr. Biggers would like all local citizens to know the importance of time when it comes to saving lives. “We are a Level 3 Trauma Center; which is the same designation as Jackson-Madison County General Hospital. After trauma stabilization, however, we sometimes have to transfer patients to larger hospitals for specialty services required upon admission to the hospital after a trauma event. 

Presently HMC ED is faster than the national average benchmarks for initial treatment of Heart Attack and Stroke; two major medical events that occur often in our area,” he said. “This means we can provide life-saving, Critical Care faster than the drive time to another hospital an hour away. That can mean the difference between life and death.” Additionally Dr. Biggers said Hardin Medical Center Emergency Department is accredited with the Society of Chest Pain Centers which means rigorous guidelines and extensive training has been met by all medical personnel involved with patients presenting with a cardiac episode. These important protocols that are in place at all levels for the treatment of heart attack and stroke patients definitely help save lives.
HMC ED staffs a physician at all times 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The average wait time is currently less than 1 hour. Emergency Departments cannot schedule patient visits and are required by law to see everyone who comes through the doors. “At HMC ED, the sickest and most critical patients are treated first, which can sometimes mean longer waits for the less critical, but we always strive to give each and every a patient excellent care in the most efficient time possible,” said Dr. Biggers.

Dr. James Biggers is striving to take the level of care patients receive at HMC’s Emergency Department to the next level. He has been a practicing physician of Emergency Medicine for nearly 24 years working in 3 states and 13+ different counties. He attended medical school at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, but grew up in the Olive Hill Community just off Coy Hill Road. He is married to Pam and they have three children,  Renata, Conn Avery, and Eva.
 Deciding to become a physician because of ‘the human element of need,’ he said, “Specifically I want to help those with life-threatening medical needs. My passion is to stop, intervene, or reverse a condition that would otherwise take someone’s life.”
 Dr. Biggers added, “HMC is my community and my home.  I am here to serve this community. Many other communities have ED’s that serve stockholders or large corporations. Our only interest here at HMC is to continue to provide necessary emergency service to our community for many years to come. I am proud to say HMC staff and supporting services are among the very best I have ever worked with. When I had a kidney stone is was this staff I trusted to take care of me! When my father had chest pain I brought him right here to the HMC Emergency Department for evaluation and in-patient care. “We all want to ultimately treat every patient as we would our own family,” said Dr. Biggers.

“The HMC ED is often the front door for our entire facility and many other services that our patients might require. We want each patient to feel they receive excellent care at every step along the way and we gratefully recognize the trust they place in us for their care,” said Dr. Biggers.

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