ELMHURST – In response to an increased number of patients seeking emergency services, Elmhurst Hospital is adding eight rooms to its emergency department.
Construction of the new rooms, which will be built in what is currently the adjacent Centralized Admissions Area, will begin in August, according to the hospital. Adam Johnson, service line director of Elmhurst Hospital's Emergency Medicine and Urgent Care Services, said the target completion is mid-September.
The emergency department, which currently has 31 rooms, served 65,405 patients in 2016, up from 51,190 patients in 2012, according to the hospital. The current Elmhurst Hospital facility was built in 2011 and its emergency department was designed at that time to handle 55,000 patients annually.
"We were doing pretty much everything we could. We had patients in the hallways and were using alternative care areas in other departments for these patients, and that was kind of the tipping point. ... Those things were continuing longer than they ever had in the past and more frequently than in the past, and that kind of is the reason why we made the decision to add additional space," Johnson said.
When the emergency department was at full capacity, 10 to 12 people would be in the hallway, Johnson said.
"It's not uncommon for ERs [to have people in the hallway], but the way the ER was laid out here, we weren't really built to have those spaces, so it's not as private obviously as if you were in a room or in an ER that was kind of set up to have hallway spaces," he said.
The emergency department currently has four pods, each with eight beds, and the eight beds will make an additional pod, Johnson said. Staff who are seeing patients in the additional areas will be shifted over to the new space, he said.
Johnson said the biggest change will be changing the monitoring in the new space so that it will have the cardiac monitoring and other equipment as the emergency department. The Centralized Admissions Area, a transition unit, will be relocated to another area of the hospital, Johnson said.
"We worked really hard this winter on doing what we could do to get patients through quicker and get them to the right places where they needed to be, and having these eight rooms is just going to make us able to do that a lot easier," said Dr. Michelle Meziere, associate medical director of emergency services, who has worked at the hospital for 15 years.
Johnson said patient satisfaction was another "big driving force" behind the expansion.
"We'd been getting a lot complaints about long wait times. That's something this community wasn't used to," Johnson said. "Going to Elmhurst, they expected to be seen quickly. It's something that staff wanted to provide too, the physicians and nurses, and couldn't, at times. So that was kind of the major driving force behind this – trying to get people in and out quickly so they have a good experience when they come to the hospital."
The Elmhurst Memorial Hospital Foundation will fund the $600,000 project, according to the hospital.