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New Ulm Medical Center

Emergency Care: Dispelling the Transfer Myth

Many patients fear that going to the Emergency Department at New Ulm Medical Center means they’ll be transferred to a larger hospital. This is rarely the case.

The New Ulm Medical Center is unquestionably not located in a metropolitan hub. As such, it’s easy to understand the myth that many patients who report to the New Ulm Medical Center Emergency Department end up getting transferred to a larger facility in another city.

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Luke Albrecht, MD

The Reality about Transfers

Julie Halvorson, RN, manager of the Emergency Department, said the numbers themselves dispel this misconception. In 2010, a total of 13,000 patients were seen in the ED, and 196 patients were transferred to another hospital, she said. Of those, 57 were transported by helicopter. In 2011, she said, approximately 10,000 patients were seen in the ED through September, and 175 patients were transferred. Of those, 60 went by helicopter.

Crunch those numbers, and you’ll see that the actual number of transfers is quite small: It’s about 1 to 2 percent of all patients seen.

The Reason Transfers Are Rare

The number of transfers at New Ulm Medical Center, in fact, is much lower than at comparable rural medical centers. The reason for this is simple, explained Luke Albrecht, MD, medical director for the Emergency Department: New Ulm has better facilities and more capabilities than many other small hospitals.

“The primary reasons for a transfer are a heart attack or major trauma, such as that from a bad car accident or a gunshot wound,” said Dr. Albrecht. “In most other instances, we can treat the patient in-house here at New Ulm.”

Top-Notch Service in a Regional Setting

New Ulm has a large number of specialists, including internists, pediatricians, orthopedic surgeons, general surgeons, obstetrician-gynecologists, emergency medicine doctors, and hospitalists (doctors trained specifically to take care of patients in the hospital), among others. That means that most common health problems, including broken bones, general surgeries like appendicitis and gall bladder removal, and even breathing problems can be taken care of right at the New Ulm Medical Center.

Plenty of Space

Another reason that transfers are rare is that the New Ulm Medical Center is spacious and has plenty of rooms to treat patients. Unlike some big-city emergency departments, New Ulm Medical Center can fit in multiple patients easily. “Our emergency department has nine individual, private rooms and two procedure rooms,” said Albrecht. “That’s a lot of rooms for a hospital with 12,000 ED patients every year.”

For more information about the NUMC Emergency Department, go to