50 Years. 9+ Million Patients
In 1969 a hospital emergency room (ER), was often times just a room. At that time, emergency medicine was not a recognized specialty— emergency patients were treated by whichever physician was at the hospital when they arrived, regardless of their knowledge of treating emergencies. Many patients suffered as a result. In fact, it was such a problem that hospitals across the country were under pressure to do something about it.
Answering the Call
Four pioneering physicians in the Twin Cities heard the call to help and responded. They started Emergency Physicians Professional Association (EPPA)—an independent medical group that began running emergency departments in hospitals across the Metro area.
These innovative doctors were on the frontlines of emergency medicine, lobbying to create specialized training in emergency medicine. Within the next ten years, Hennepin County Medical Center started a residency program focused on emergency medicine—only the second in the country. EPPA hired graduates as soon as they finished their studies.
“The early development of the specialty of Emergency Medicine took vision, and a passion for creating better medical outcomes for patients suffering an emergency. The founders of our group had that vision and passion to create something better. Those attributes remain the at the core of our group,” says Dr. Rob Thomas, President and CEO of EPPA.
Leading the Way
EPPA physicians and medical staff continued to push for excellence in the ER. For example, EPPA leaders developed guidelines to reduce the number of opioids prescribed in the ER two decades before it emerged as the problem it is today.
“Twenty years ago, when we first created guidelines for opioid use for pain, we got a lot of push back from people who didn’t think we needed to reduce prescriptions,” says Dr. Peter Currie, Medical Director of Quality. “Now we know EPPA leaders at the time saw something others didn’t.”
This ability to see a need and find a way to respond quickly is the reason EPPA is one of only a few independent provider groups with such longevity.
“Our physicians regularly take on leadership roles within the hospitals we serve. This ability to see the big picture broadens our ability to provide consistent, high-quality care,” Thomas reports.
And with 50 years of experience to draw on, EPPA has become a trusted partner for hospitals of all sizes. EPPA currently brings cutting-edge acute care to some of the biggest and busiest hospitals in the Twin Cities Metro. They also lead ERs in hospitals across Minnesota.
Seeing a Need
EPPA watched as volumes at Minnesota hospitals increased year after year—sometimes more than 20%—resulting in long waits in the ER. The leaders at EPPA wondered how they could help relieve the burden their hospital partners faced. Knowing that only 30% of patients who visit an ER need to be admitted to the hospital, EPPA came up with yet another visionary idea.
In 2010, they built the first of three freestanding facilities to deliver emergency medical expertise outside the hospital setting.
“The idea was originally met with skepticism because no one had ever done anything like it before in the United States,” remembers Thomas.
The Urgency Room is now open in Eagan, Woodbury and Vadnais Heights, where the same exceptional teams that staff its hospital partner’s emergency departments provide fast care for patients who don’t need an ambulance.
Looking to the Future
Now that EPPA is turning 50, the group’s innovative spirit is as strong as ever. They recently moved into new headquarters in Bloomington. The new office has the space they need for the continuing medical education programs they provide staff. It also includes a high-tech center where EPPA remote scribes take the note-taking burden off physicians so they can spend more quality time with patients.
As this remarkable medical group continues to expand their partnerships with hospitals to bring cutting-edge acute care to more areas of the state, patients in Minnesota communities are grateful for their dedication to delivering the highest quality emergency medicine possible.
“Your team took great care of me!” reported a recent patient. And taking good care of Minnesotans is what will continue to fuel the hearts of everyone at EPPA for the next 50 years.