Stephanie Klein-Davis | The Roanoke Times

The patience of patients is often taxed as they wait to be moved into a room at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital, unaware of just what needs to happen behind the scenes to make it happen.

As the medical center that cares for the region’s sickest, most complex patients and those who have experienced horrific trauma, Roanoke Memorial is also the go-to place for other hospitals and nursing facilities throughout western Virginia looking to transfer patients who need a more advanced level of care. The demand for its beds often runs higher than the supply.

A few years ago, Carilion created a center to better manage the flow of patients in, out and through the hospital. The success of the first-of-its-kind center is attracting attention from other health systems and often hosts visitors looking to see how it works.

“A patient in Wytheville laying two hours down the road doesn’t need to understand what we do. But they do count on us to have a bed open, a surgery table open and a physician readily available when they need it most,” said Melanie Morris, senior director of Carilion Clinic’s Transfer and Communications Center. “And that’s what we’re doing behind the curtain.

On a recent Monday, during the height of flu season, the team behind the curtain faced a familiar challenge: Nearly every adult bed was already claimed at Roanoke Memorial.

In the emergency department, doctors and nurses braced for another record-setting day; they already had 20 patients waiting for inpatient beds to open. The surgery schedule showed 30 patients would need to be admitted post-op, and there could be more. The phones inside the center were ringing, with other hospitals and nursing homes wanting to transfer their critical patients to the region’s center for complex care.

Read more about Carilion Clinic’s Command Center in the Roanoke Times here.