Rapid Access Center: EMS behind the scenes

Sandra ClarkOur Town Health

Meet Mary Beth Bass, call center team lead of the Covenant Health Rapid Access Center.


The center launched in 2008 and has never closed. It is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Bass said her team fields calls from physicians and hospital personnel who want to transfer a patient to another medical center in the region where more specialized treatment is available.

An example is the widow maker, or STEMI – ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction.

“This is a 100 percent blockage in a main artery to your heart,” Bass said. Time is important and we need to get that patient to a cath lab (with special imaging equipment).

“We get an EMS and in some cases Lifestar (helicopter) on the way. Then we activate the cath lab (of the hospital that will receive the patient). We page the cardiologist on call and get them in touch with the initial physician.

“We take care of everything behind the scenes. We enter orders from doctors and handle the details so the doctors don’t have to.”

The Rapid Access Center gets a lot of stroke cases – most are brought to Ft. Sanders Regional which offers comprehensive stroke treatment and rehabilitation. The Rapid Access Center has eight full-time and two part-time staff members, Bass said, and all have medical training.

“We’re not hands-on, but we are caregivers,” said Bass. “We get people to facilities where they will get the best care.”

During EMS Week (May 17-23), Covenant Health made emergency medical services personnel available for interviews. We were excited to talk with Bass, to discover what her team does to promote the health and safety of area residents.

EMS professionals can serve in direct patient care, and they can also fill other roles in healthcare settings. These positions all play an important role at Covenant Health and in local communities.

In addition to the Rapid Access Center, Covenant Health also has:

  • Health unit coordinators, who provide clerical and support services to a hospital’s emergency department
  • Patient transfer specialists, who facilitate patient transfers between hospitals throughout the region and
  • Physician liaisons, who provide information about Covenant Health to physicians and other healthcare providers and organizations.

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