By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Northeast Georgia Health System rolls out ‘air traffic control’ for patients
2022 CARE 1.jpg
The Northeast Georgia Health System "care traffic control " center tracks patients as they enter the system Monday, July 18, 2022, where the team coordinates patients to the right type of care at its hospitals. - photo by Scott Rogers

With its wall-mounted TV monitors and real-time data, the nerve center may resemble airport traffic control, but the precious commodity here is human lives.

“With the growth we’ve seen in recent years, we’re excited to be able to serve more patients well and ensure our teams are coordinated across the entire system, which in turn will reduce wait times for patients and improve patient (care) throughout across the health system,” said Dr. Bedri Yusuf, Northeast Georgia Physicians Group’s chief physician executive.

Yusuf is speaking of Northeast Georgia Health System’s new Care Traffic Control Center, which was rolled out in July in corporate offices at 1405 Jesse Jewell Parkway, Gainesville.

2022 CARE 9.jpg
The Northeast Georgia Health System's "care traffic control " center tracks patients as they enter the system Monday, July 18, 2022, where the team coordinates patients to the right type of care at its hospitals. - photo by Scott Rogers

The new control center will help keep all patients progressing through stages of care at the NGHS hospitals in Gainesville, Braselton and Barrow and Lumpkin counties. The goal is  ensuring patients get the right care at the right time — and get back home as soon as it’s medically safe.

One example of how the care center works is a patient needing emergency care being taken to a hospital where, based on data, treatment can be given quicker. Emergency responders also are plugged into the new system, said doctors who gave The Times a recent tour of the facility.

Doctors previously relied on — and still do — Epic, an electronic health record system that coordinates care for patients and that can be seen by all the patient’s health care providers.

“A lot of thought went into this project, making sure it’s the best it can be,” said Brian Schaub, executive director of systems, operations and resources at NGHS. 

The new center was inspired by the hospital scrambling to efficiently use hospital space during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Some patients at NGHS had to be treated in hallways and makeshift patient rooms because there were no beds available,” according to a NGHS press release. 

“So, after being forced into this reactive response of managing hospital capacity, NGHS began looking for a more proactive approach moving forward — monitoring admissions and discharges on a daily basis in a centralized location — in order to bring a better experience to its patients while enhancing processes and communication for its physicians and staff.”

In the new care center, bed assignments for all patients are tracked on TVs across the front of the room. Staff hears calls coming in with patients on ambulances or in the air being flown in from surrounding areas. 

“It really does pull together everybody, from physicians, nurses and other members of the care team,” said Dr. Krupa Desai, Care Traffic Control medical director. “We’re able to get everyone involved, with the same goal of improving the health of the community in all we do.”

“Seeing this place come to life has been incredible,” Schaub said, “and having all of our teams come together to make it happen has really shown me how much our people care for the communities we serve.”


2022 CARE 7.jpg
The Northeast Georgia Health System's "care traffic control " center tracks patients as they enter the system Monday, July 18, 2022, where the team coordinates patients to the right type of care at its hospitals. - photo by Scott Rogers
2022 CARE 10.jpg
Dr. Mark McCracken, hospitalist and physician adviser, works Monday, July 18, 2022, inside the Northeast Georgia Health System's "care traffic control " center where patients are tracked as they enter the system to get patients to the right type of care at its hospitals. - photo by Scott Rogers
2022 CARE 2.jpg
Chief Physician Executive Dr. Bedri Yusuf visits the Northeast Georgia Health System's "care traffic control " center Monday, July 18, 2022, where patients are directed to the right type of care at its hospitals. - photo by Scott Rogers
2022 CARE 5.jpg
The Northeast Georgia Health System's "care traffic control " center tracks patients as they enter the system Monday, July 18, 2022, where the team coordinates patients to the right type of care at its hospitals. - photo by Scott Rogers