Each year, more than 35,000 patients walk through the doors of the emergency department at Sampson Regional Medical Center. To accommodate those numbers, the hospital has recently gone through a transition and renovation phase that will only enhance the quality of care the medical facility offers.
As part of the renovations, Marketing Director Amber Cava said the hospital has renovated the emergency department’s lobby, constructed new patient rooms, renovated the main portion of the department and has plans to transform the current treatment rooms into rooms more conducive to patient needs.
“We appreciate the patience from both the community and our staff as we’ve moved through these necessary improvements,” Cava said. “While we’ve encountered some growing pains and inconveniences, they have been necessary to meet the growing need in our community.”
Construction on the project, which was budgeted at $500,000, began several months ago as a four-phase project. Work, Cava noted, was completed in phases to allow the flow of patients to stay at the high standards the emergency department has become known for.
“We recognize that our emergency room has set a high standard in recent years for turn-around time, and we have been challenged during construction to maintain turn-around times that are typically below national benchmarks,” Cave explained.
According to Jerry Heinzman, chief financial officer for SRMC, the first phase of the renovations included a transition to the lobby area. Updated features, including new décor and furnishings, only promote a comfortable and relaxed environment for both patients and visitors. While the lobby area was reduced, this allowed for additional treatment rooms to be added as part of the second phase.
“The newly designed, yet smaller lobby, completed in phase one, allowed room for construction of six new treatment rooms,” Heinzman noted. “New treatment areas have increased patient privacy and comfort, measuring larger than the curtained bays in the main emergency department.”
Pending inspection approval, the third phase of the hospital will open Monday, allowing for the hospital’s emergency department to serve more patients at one time. When all renovations are complete, the ER will have the capability to offer patients 22 treatment rooms, two trauma rooms and five Fast Track rooms. This is a net addition of six beds to the department.
Contractors with H.N. Carr Construction were busy this week completing last minute renovations, which included the conversion of the seven curtained bays to six, larger, private treatment rooms.
“The floor plan developed in the third phase prepares for more optimal work staff work flows, once tied into a completed phase four,” Heinzman shared. “Curtained bays were reduced from seven to six rooms and converted to private treatment areas that enhance patient comfort and privacy.”
As part of the third phase of construction, the department’s one trauma space grew from one room to two and the ER providers workstation will be situated with more convenient access to all three sections of the emergency department, including clear visibility of the trauma rooms.
“Our physicians and providers were cramped and almost rolling over each other at times,” Cava said, as she gave the tour of the work in progress. “To make their job easier and their work space more conducive to their needs, we have expanded the physician work space and their area.”
Yet to be completed is the fourth, and final, phase of the project, which is slated for completion in September. During this phase, Cava said the five private treatment rooms that are part of the original main ER area will receive updates, similar to those received in the completed treatment areas.
“With a projected completion date by the end of September 2016, the emergency department will operate at full capacity as we move into the fall months and approach flu season,” Cava assured.
According to Connie Wolfe, RN, ER nursing director, the department sees roughly 100 patients a day. The original ER was built to serve only 17,000 patients per year.
“This renovation was necessary to meet emergency room utilization by our community,” Wolfe said. “While the deployment of our new emergency department and construction have temporarily affected our turn-around times, we are proud to still be below the national average of 280 minutes.”
Even at the height of construction and implementation of phases, in May, the average turn-around time was only 271 minutes. In June, that turn-around time was 228 minutes and is projected to be only 219 minutes in July.
“We are trending back down and remain focused on improving our processes, workflows and care delivery to meet the needs of our patients,” Wolfe said.
The completely remolded emergency department, Cava added, will allow patients to receive quality personalized care in the comfort of private treatment areas, while providing improved staff flow for increased efficiency of patient care.
“We we prepare to open the final five beds at the end of phase four construction, we are evaluating our staffing plans based on peak days and times of emergency room utilization,” Cava shared. “We are currently recruiting nurses to fill positions in the emergency department, as well as other units within the hospital.”
While the construction may have caused minor inconveniences throughout the process, Cava said it was a short-term inconvenience that will result in a long-term gain.