A Tuscaloosa, Ala., hospital quickly revoked a pilot program that offered special emergency room treatment to hospital trustees and local elected officials.
DCH Regional Medical Center had sent out "courtesy cards" to a group of fewer than 40 people, telling them to call the charge nurse before coming to the medical center or DCH's Northport (Ala.) Hospital, and then show the card to the security officer in order to enter the emergency department through the ambulance entrance.
That means the card carrier could bypass the main registration desk and register in a hospital room.
"This is a pilot program," Community Relations Director Sammy Watson said.
A few hours later, Watson announced the program would be canceled because of employee misunderstandings about its intent.
"The administration has decided to contact the people who received what we called the DCH Emergency Courtesy Card and ask them to dispose of that," Watson said.
The program wasn't intended as preferential treatment, Watson said.
"This hospital has been studying ways for years to streamline the process in the emergency department," he said. "Over half of admissions to the hospital come through*.*.*.*the emergency department."
Watson said the "DCH Emergency Courtesy Card" was suggested by the director of the medical center's emergency room, Philip Bobo, M.D. DCH administrators and supervisors received a memo about the plan.
Watson said he didn't know who chose the first group to receive the courtesy cards. According to the memo, "others as deemed appropriate" would be added, but Watson said the list hadn't been expanded.
The hospital would continue working on expediting emergency admissions, he said.
The hospital has an existing plan under which some German natives working at the Mercedes-Benz plant receive emergency admission cards to help them deal with language and any other barriers they may encounter at the hospital.