The original members of Lawrence Emergency Medicine Associates were, clockwise from lower left, Drs. Sabrina Prewett, Scott Robinson, Brian Hunt and Rick Dietz.
by Jessica Brewer, LMH Health
This past July, Lawrence Emergency Medicine Associates celebrated 25 years of providing physician services in the emergency department at LMH Health. It began with a meeting in spring 1993 between Dr. Scott Robinson, an emergency physician at KU Medical Center, and Kansas State Senator Sandy Praeger to discuss legislative issues. That meeting led Senator Praeger to introduce Dr. Robinson to her husband, Dr. Mark Praeger.
At that time, Dr. Praeger was the Chief of Staff at Lawrence Memorial Hospital and had concerns about the emergency department. Through his leadership, the LMH Board of Trustees awarded a contract to provide emergency physician services to Dr. Robinson, and Lawrence Emergency Medicine Associates, also known as LEMA, was created.
“I was committed to forming a group of physicians who were residency trained and board certified in emergency medicine and living in the community,” Dr. Robinson said. “These credentials, and this level of commitment to LMH and the community, were lacking and strongly desired by the LMH medical staff and the Board of Trustees. At that time, few, if any, emergency departments in Kansas could claim that their emergency physician staff were all board certified in emergency medicine.”
LEMA’s commitment to quality care and kindness resulted in high patient satisfaction ratings and the group regained the community’s trust.
“When we started this partnership between LMH and LEMA, the community didn’t trust the emergency department,” Dr. Robinson said. “So, to see how far we have come and how our patient satisfaction and trust from the community has increased, it is something we are very proud of.”
As the emergency department patient visits grew, so did the number of emergency physicians. In 1994, the emergency department had just over 15,000 patient visits. The number of visits more than doubled to nearly 40,000 in 2018.
LEMA has grown from a group of just four Emergency Physicians to one that includes 11 emergency physicians, 11 hospitalist physicians and 11 physician assistants/advanced practice nurses. Dr. Sabrina Prewett is the medical director for the emergency department, Dr. Toni Reynolds serves as the director of Trauma Services, Dr. Caleb Trent serves as the director of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and hospitalist Dr. Marc Scarbrough serves as the current Chief of Staff at LMH Health.
The LEMA emergency physicians are all members of the Emergency Medicine Residency teaching faculty at KU Medical Center. Emergency medicine resident physicians in training rotate through the emergency department at LMH Health as part of their training. This program helps the residents gain experience from board certified emergency medicine physicians who practice in a busy community hospital.
The emergency department at LMH Health is a certified Stroke Center and Chest Pain Center and is a level four trauma center. For treatment of an acute stroke or an acute heart attack, LMH Health consistently has some of the best treatment times in the nation.
“Our ‘door to drug’ and ‘door to balloon’ times are hard to beat,” said Dr. Prewett. “This is a quality of care indicator tracked nationally and something we are all proud of.”
“Door to drug” refers to the time it takes the emergency department to evaluate a patient with stroke-like symptoms, diagnose a stroke and deliver the clot-dissolving drug, tPA. This drug is administered to patients who come in with an acute stroke. The ideal time to have a patient examined, diagnosed and given tPA is 60 minutes. The LMH Health emergency department has set a door-to-drug goal of under 60 minutes, and often, patients with an acute stroke receive their treatment in 20 to 30 minutes.
“Door to balloon” time is similar, but refers to acute heart attack patients. This is the time it takes for a chest pain patient to be diagnosed as having a heart attack, getting them to the Cardiac Cath lab and inflating the balloon to open the coronary artery, which restores blood flow to the heart muscles.
“We are deeply proud of the footprint that our physicians and their families have left on the community, along with the outstanding health care and leadership we have provided to LMH over the last 25 years,” Dr. Robinson said.
Dr. Robinson said the beauty of being a part of your community is that you are committed to doing the best you can, and that’s a 24/7/365 job for them.
“I will get stopped when I am in public by patients I’ve treated who tell me their story about seeing me in the ED,” Dr. Robinson said. “We hear so many wonderful comments from the community about the excellent care they received from us.”
Janice Early, vice president of marketing and communications for LMH Health, worked closely with Dr. Robinson to introduce the new group to the community in 1994. She said, “The LEMA physicians have demonstrated for more than 25 years how committed they are to providing the best emergency care for people in our community. Dr. Robinson, Dr. Prewett and their colleagues over the years have elevated the quality of emergency services available locally. They have demonstrated from day one their commitment to this hospital and this community. I know firsthand from personal experience they care deeply. When my family, friends and neighbors need medical care immediately, I know they will be well cared for in our emergency department.”
Jessica Brewer is the social media and digital communications specialist at LMH Health.