Each year Delta Health’s Emergency and Trauma department treat more than 14,000 patients. As a certified Level IV Trauma Center, Delta Health continually works to provide accessible, high-quality emergency services to the community. Most recently, Delta Health brought on Jillian Emmons, RN, CCRN as the new Emergency Department (ED) Director. Emmons has been in healthcare for nearly 20 years and has been part of the Delta Health team for the past nine years. She has worked in the ED and at the West Elk Hotchkiss Clinic as a nurse, as the Nurse Supervisor in the ED, and before taking the director position, was the Trauma Nurse Coordinator for three years.
We sat down with Emmons to talk about department goals, increasing staff education and preparedness as well as her community education and outreach efforts. As someone who knows and understands Delta Health and the Delta County community, Emmons is excited to lead the ED in a positive direction by providing exceptional emergency care to patients.
Q: You’ve been in healthcare since the age of 19 as a nursing assistant, why did you decide to go into healthcare?
A: I have always had an interest in healthcare since I was young. My grandmother was a pediatric nurse and she sparked the interest for four of her five children to go into nursing. I remember sitting around as a family and they would get on the subject of work and they would just laugh and laugh about all the funny things that happened with their patients or their co-workers. It showed that they enjoyed their work. I was not the only one affected by this; there are now 13 nurses in our family and one currently working toward their degree. My daughter is showing an interest in medicine too. I can say that I am a part of a long legacy of nurses and I am very proud of that. And I hope it continues for years to come.
Q: Where are you originally from and where did you study/receive your medical training?
A: I’m originally from California and graduated from San Joaquin Delta College and have been working in healthcare ever since. After I received my degree I went straight into critical care and worked in the ICU department in CA and the ER.
Q: You’ve been part of the Delta Health team since 2012, why did you decide to take the position as the ED Director?
A: I felt like I could lead the department in a positive direction and make impactful changes. I also knew that if someone was brought in from outside of the organization it would be harder for that person to learn the facility, the staff and our processes. I already know our organization and felt confident that I could keep us going in the right direction.
Q: What are some of the goals you have for the ED?
A: One goal that I have and have already started is to improve education for our staff. We received a grant to have our staff become certified emergency nurses or certified trauma nurses and that’s been great. I want our staff to feel confident going into each situation and knowing they have the knowledge to care for patients.
One of our organization’s goals is to increase our LeapFrog score and the Emergency Department is doing our part to help improve that score through increased safety measures and processes. We are working on our overall processes to improve patient care and to ensure they’re well taken care of.
Q: One challenge with the emergency room can be long wait times. Talk to us about what it means to triage patients and how that can impact wait times.
A: We are continually working on improving potential wait times in the ED, but I do think it’s important for people to know that we do have processes in place that determine the severity of a patient’s case and who needs the most critical care the soonest. When we triage a patient we are determining the severity of the case which determines who will get seen soonest by a physician. If someone comes in with a broken neck and needs an artificial airway that will take priority over someone who may need stitches. We try to get patients seen by a physician fairly quickly, but it can still be unpredictable.
We understand the emergency room is not a place that people want to be for a long time and we do our best to get patients treated quickly. Just know that emergency care is always going to be available. We will always be here to take care of our community and when patients have ER needs, we are going to be there to take care of them.
Q: We know you’re passionate about community and staff education. Tell us more about the different community education projects you’re working on or have worked on.
A: One project I am currently part of is a year-long concussion campaign with other community partners. Our goal is to standardize care when it comes to concussion treatment. We are working with clinics to make sure referrals are done correctly, and we have also developed material for community members to learn and understand the signs of concussions and treatments.
I have also been part of the CPR and AED education for the community with the Stop the Bleed campaigns. We have trained close to 1,000 people on Stop the Bleed and we now have Stop the Bleed kits and AEDs at every school in Delta County.
We have done campaigns around fall prevention and decreasing the number of emergency room visits related to falls in our community. Each year we do a Trauma Conference that brings together speakers and activities in the trauma and emergency field. We are also continually doing emergency preparedness drills for our hospital and community to ensure we are prepared in the event of an emergency.
Q: Tell us about your immediate family and how long you’ve been in the area.
A: I am married with three children. My husband Ryan was born and raised in Paonia and is a graduate of Paonia High School. Ryan and I met in college and married in California where we lived until moving to Colorado in 2012. He currently owns his own thriving electrical business. My oldest just graduated from Paonia High School and is off to college in the fall. The other two children are currently attending Paonia Elementary and are very active in sports.
In my free time I like to play volleyball, I enjoy gardening and going to church and participating in church activities. Our family loves to be outside and we’ve made a plan to do a hike every weekend until school starts.
Delta Health Emergency services are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. The Emergency room is located at 1501 East 3rd Street in Delta and can be reached by phone at 970.874.2222. To learn more about Delta Health, visit deltahealthco.org.