St. Clair Hospital: Ready for Any Emergency

If you have been following along with our recent blog posts, you may have noticed the most recent stories involve the St. Clair Emergency Room.

The Emergency Room at St. Clair Hospital is dynamic, complex, and fast paced. On a daily basis, the ER at St. Clair is filled with people of all ages with health problems that range from chest pain and heart attacks to dehydration and sport injuries. While not all problems in the Emergency Room are life-threatening, they are all urgent to the individual coming through our sliding glass doors. No matter the problem, the doctors, nurses, and other allied health personnel at St. Clair have to be prepared at all times for every possibility.

Working in an Emergency Room is a tall order, and it’s not for everyone. But those who have chosen emergency medicine thrive on it and welcome the immense challenge. Jason Biggs, M.D. loves his position as Chair of Emergency Medicine at St.Clair Hospital. “St. Clair is an exceptional hospital with a very busy ER that bring a lot of variety,” he says. “We see lots of children and we treat a lot of geriatric patients and every age in between. A good ER doctor is well rounded, a jack of all trades. We have to stay on the cutting edge and our expertise encompasses many other fields. An ER doctor is often the first line of defense for an acutely ill or injured patient; the first physician to see that patient, make a diagnosis and initiate treatment. After that initial visit, we refer to and rely on our excellent network of primary care physicians and specialists.”

Emergency medicine was not officially recognized as a medical specialty until 1979. Before that, ERs were mostly staffed by general practitioners and surgeons, who were often moonlighting, explains St. Clair ER physician Kyra Kilpela, M.D. She says that the standards of care have improved tremendously since then and there is great respect for emergency medicine today.

At St. Clair, Dr. Kilpela and other members of the ER medical staff are board-certified in emergency medicine, including pediatric emergency medicine. Dr. Kilpela’s colleague Kevin Friend, M.D. likes the pace and the scope of emergency medicine. “I chose emergency medicine because I like the breadth of it,” he says. “We treat the entire continuum of human illness; we see every aspect of medicine in the ER, in its most raw forms. Every day, I come to work not knowing what is going to happen. There can be a lot of pressure: when we have people in critical condition, we are working feverishly, trying to figure out what is wrong. We have a strong bond as a staff in this ER and that is invaluable; we could not do the work we do without that.”

This story is an edited version of a full report published in our Spring 2017 edition of HouseCall. If you want to read the full write-up — which includes more information — you can visit the St.Clair website and download a copy of our Spring 2017 HouseCall here.