Novant Health introduces new program helping cancer patients avoid the ER

The ER Bypass program helps cancer patients avoid the ER and head straight to a specialty floor with oncology-trained nurses, providers and pharmacists.
Long waits and trips to the emergency room can be especially risky for cancer patients.
Published: Jun. 2, 2023 at 8:28 AM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - It’s no secret that the emergency room, regardless of location, is a hectic environment.

One of the driving factors for said atmosphere? Crowded waiting areas full of sick or injured patients waiting to be seen by a doctor.

This can be particularly dangerous for cancer patients, who are notably immunocompromised.

However, research has shown that 80% of visits to the ER for patients on active chemotherapy can be avoided, as most of them are there due to side effects of chemo and radiation treatment.

Now, Novant Health has created a new program for cancer patients in need of emergency care.

It’s called the ER Bypass program and serves to help cancer patients head straight to a specialty floor with oncology-trained nurses, providers and pharmacists 24/7.

Dr David Rizzieri, the senior vice president and system physician executive for the Novant Health Cancer Institute, has led the implementation of the program at the Novant Presbyterian Medical Center.

“So when a patient who is on active therapy calls Care Connections with one of these concerns, the team is educated to recognize this patient may fall into this emergency room bypass pathway. And they make the call to the inpatient nurse manager and set the wheels in motion to identify that, yes, the bed’s available, and the patient is told that they can immediately arrive through the front of the hospital right up to the direct admission bed waiting for them,” Rizzieri said.

The ByPass program has already made an impact on patients like Allie, who has been battling lymphatic cancer for over two years. Allie’s mother, Connice Dyar, can fret less knowing her youngest daughter no longer has to wait in an emergency room.

“To be able to be taken up to go straight up to the seventh floor F, which is the oncology floor, and know that they know exactly what to do - they know wat to start, antibiotics, everything - it gives you a peace of mind,” Dyar said.

With families like the Dyars finding newfound comfort through the ByPass program, Rizzieri hopes to provide its services to even more patients.

“There’s significant interest in expansion,” Rizzieri said. “And there’s the ability to expand once we can be sure that it’s going to be efficient, safe, and we have the proper staffing throughout not only our Charlotte market but also the rest of the state.”