Dr. Arbelaez

Rewriting healthcare means disrupting the way we deliver emergency care.

Rewriting Healthcare by Christian Arbelaez, MD, chief of emergency medicine

As a global expert in emergency care delivery, Dr. Christian Arbelaez leads Boston Medical Center’s Emergency Department (ED) — the busiest in New England and the 11th busiest in the country. He never stops thinking about ways to further improve and innovate so that patients have access to the best-possible, safest, state-of-the-art emergency care. 

Dr. Arbelaez knows firsthand how important it is to care for the whole patient. Born in Colombia, he fled to the U.S. because of political violence, and he was the first generation of his family to attend college. “I lead by first thinking about our patients and our communities and all of the struggles they’re facing,” he shares. 

Learn more about Dr. Arbelaez and his commitment to rewriting healthcare through reimagining and redesigning emergency care.

Dr. Arbelaez and team
Dr. Arbelaez works with his team in the Emergency Department

What is special about the emergency department (ED) at BMC? 

BMC serves 130,000 adult and pediatric patients through the ED every year. Our ED is more than just a trauma center. We are an academic medical center focused on health equity and clinical excellence and expertise. The ED is the gateway to BMC’s world-renowned specialty care, including cardiovascular care, stroke care, sepsis care, and critical care. We have access to pharmacists and state-of-the-art technology, radiology, and diagnostic imaging. When we’re caring for patients in our trauma bay, our nurses are delivering Magnet-level care to our patients at the bedside. The level of care that we’re able to provide here is really extraordinary.

The ED is the gateway to BMC’s world-renowned specialty care, including cardiovascular care, stroke care, sepsis care, and critical care.

We take care of some of the sickest patients in the city of Boston, those with heart attacks, strokes, or overwhelming infections that cause sepsis. In these situations, seconds and minutes matter — and we have a full, comprehensive team waiting and ready to care for them the moment they get to our door. When our patients arrive, our teams are ready to establish an IV, get an EKG, get radiology imaging and labs, and consult with any specialty we may need to care for them. All of that state-of-the art care is available for our patients.

Another really unique thing about BMC is that we think about the patient holistically. In the ED, we care for the entire patient beyond their emergency medical needs. We have a lot of wraparound programs that aim to provide all the services that our patients need. Some examples include Project ASSERTFaster Paths to Treatment, and our Violence Intervention Advocacy Program, which is where our community health workers come into the ED and work with trauma victims and their families to begin to disrupt the cycle that they’re living in.

How is BMC pushing the boundaries of emergency medicine?

Our ED is one of the leading and longest-standing departments in the country. While we’re known for trauma care, we lead in many other areas. We recently convened staff from 15 EDs from across the country to share best practices and to lead efforts to tackle some of the complex problems we’re seeing across EDs.

We’re also thinking a lot about extending emergency medicine outside the walls of the ED. We do that in collaboration with partners across the city, like Mobile Integrated Healthcare and Community EMS, which sees patients outside the ED and tries to get them to the best place of care.

Dr. Arbelaez and team
Dr. Arbelaez is focused on providing holistic care to all ED patients

What plans do you have for BMC’s ED in the years to come?

We’ve made many strides over the last few years with innovation, and we will continue to focus on finding new and better ways to deliver emergency care for our patients. We’re really excited about some of the results we’re seeing, but we think the opportunities lie ahead for us to transform emergency care for the city of Boston and focus on thriving urban communities, because that that’s what our populations need.

What is BMC to you?

BMC is clinical excellence that takes care of the entire person. BMC is exceptional emergency care for everybody.

How is BMC rewriting healthcare?

To me, rewriting healthcare means disrupting and innovating in the way we deliver emergency care to improve outcomes and transform our communities. 

At BMC, we take great pride in pushing the limits. We’re always trying to figure out how to redesign and reimagine emergency care, and we do that by looking at things differently. We pride ourselves on the way we lead through innovation and disruption, not only across the hospital but also across the city and across the nation. 

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