The Department of Emergency Medicine has assumed responsibility for Keck Medicine of USC’s Evaluation and Treatment Clinic (ETC), a move that will expand the range of urgent, non-emergency medical services provided by the hospital.

The ETC, located in the Gold Lobby of Keck Hospital of USC, fills an important gap for patients who need urgent medical services while on the Health Sciences Campus. Outpatients with acute medical problems too complex to be managed in the outpatient clinics can be seen in ETC.

“The function of the ETC is evaluation, initial treatment and triage of patients with acute medical and surgical issues, which is the bailiwick of emergency medicine,” said Carl Chudnofsky, MD, professor and chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine.

Unlike a traditional emergency department or urgent care center, the ETC does not take walk-ins. Patients must be referred by their Keck Medicine-affiliated medical care providers and must be in stable condition.

There are benefits for patients to be seen by the ETC rather than going to an outside emergency department. The ETC staff has access to patient’s medical records. Patients do not have to endure long waits. And, because it is part of Keck Hospital, the ETC has sophisticated laboratory and radiographic equipment to conduct quick, thorough evaluations.

Tarina Kang, MD, medical director of the ETC, added that one of the biggest benefits that the ETC provides patients is continuity of care. Doctors can refer patients to the ETC for evaluation, then be referred to other medical providers at Keck Medicine or they can be admitted to the hospital when necessary.

“We want to provide a full service to Keck Medicine patients, so they don’t have to go to another facility,” Kang said.

The ETC staff also responds to medical emergencies in the outpatient areas of the medical center. These patients may be transferred to the ETC or, in emergency situations, the ETC staff will administer care until an ambulance arrives.

Chudnofsky and Kang added that expansion plans are in the works. Since July 1, emergency physicians now staff the ETC from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday. Working closely with hospitalists from the Department of Internal Medicine, the ETC also will expand to provide coverage, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Hospital administration, meanwhile, is looking for additional space to expand the ETC footprint so that more patients can be evaluated and treated in the ETC.

— Hope Hamashige

Patients can be referred to the Evaluation and Treatment Clinic from their Keck Medicine of USC physician. (Photo/Ricardo Carrasco III)