A $50 million investment to improve emergency care in the Topeka area is nearing completion.
Stormont-Vail broke ground on the project at SW 8th and Washburn in May 2007. It's aimed at not only improving services, but also addressing that most annoying of ER complaints - the inevitable wait!
Angie Gamber, Stormont's Administrative Director of Emergency and Trauma Services, says the current emergency department has 13,000 square feet, while the new space is 35,000 square feet. She says the space will allow them to see more patients, more quickly.
Gamber says it's more than just adding more rooms. A lab and pharmacy will be right in the department, speeding up test results and medication delivery. Stormont also will add x-ray and CT equipment right in the emergency department, so patients won't have to be moved to another area of the hospital. Every minute saved in providing such services, Gamber says, makes a shorter wait for those waiting to be seen.
Stormont plans to increase its emergency staff 20-percent when it opens the new area. Their work area will be raised, in the center of the patient rooms, so staff will be able to see all around them.
The rooms are meant to be private, but designed to handle additional equipment and patients in a mass casualty situation, when more space is needed or when members of the same family are in the same trauma, such as an accident. Gamber says it allows them to be flexible.
Building from scratch also allowed them to fill holes in disaster response plans. Gamber says specific areas are identified for decontamination. They also planned for space to store equipment for emergency management situations. In addition, the new facility will have two separate entrances. On a daily basis, it will allow ambulance and walk-in traffic to be separated. In a disaster situation, it will allow them to separate triage areas.
One other feature is a dedicated area for the SANE/SART program, for victims of sexual assault. It will be more private and have its own interview area. Plus, Gamber says, those needing those services won't have to travel through the entire emergency department to get to it.
Stormont will move to the new emergency unit in June.
The second floor of the addition will house an additional critical care unit along with a critical decision unit. The top two floors will have extra patient rooms, addressing space needs in other areas of the hospital as well. Those beds will be available by fall.
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