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Multi-year ER expansion at Cape Hospital on schedule

By Staff | Dec 31, 2010

Although numerous renovations and expansions have already been completed for the Cape Coral Hospital Emergency Department project, there still are a number of things to be completed before the end of 2011.
System Director of Public Affairs for Lee Memorial Health System Karen Krieger said the Cape Coral Hospital Emergency Department expansion project began in June 2008, and is expected to have all seven phases completed by late 2011.
Once the project is completed, the emergency room will have 42 beds, an increase from the 24 beds with which they began.
The design, construction, equipment and furnishings cost for the entire project is $11.4 million.
Timothy Dougherty, the medical director for the Cape Coral Hospital Emergency Department, said a great deal of thought was put into the process of how each phase was to be completed, so it would not affect the flow of the emergency room.
“It has worked out tremendously well and hasn’t affected the flow at all,” he said, adding that it has been a “very seamless process so far.”
There also were three goals set Dougherty said: Improving patient experience, efficiency and patient safety.
The first phase completed consisted of a new waiting room, fast-track area and a new digital radiology suite. Dougherty said the new radiology room keeps patients from competing with other patients in the emergency room because, for example, if someone comes in with a broken ankle they can be taken care of right away.
The fast track area, which is open from 9 a.m. until 2 a.m., is functioning well by moving patients through who are experiencing less acute problems. Dougherty said the area has its own waiting room, so patients can be moved from the main emergency waiting room.
The area was also designed to bring satisfaction and comfort to patients by setting up a Wii gaming system for children and adding televisions to every room.
Dougherty said all of the rooms also have satellite radio setup because the music provides comfort for the patients.
The new area has allowed the staff to see a lot more patients.
It has “increased our volume and increased our efficiency,” Dougherty said about the fast track area.
The second phase that has been completed includes a new Pod B area with 12 new beds and a nursing station. Each room is equipped to handle its own emergency, due to its own cardiac monitoring systems located within.
Dougherty said the extra beds have allowed them to keep waiting room times to a minimum since season began, provided that “we are not holding patients and getting them upstairs when admitted.”
The whole design for the nursing station was structured to have them set up in the center with the rooms surrounding to improve the patient safety and proficiency.
The new Pod B also houses the new area for registration and discharge planning for patients. Dougherty said they will take over the previous registration area, along with three emergency rooms and remodel them for the next phase which will take them through the end of the season into the spring.
The additional beds have provided an increase in the number of patients that they can see on a daily basis.
As of Wednesday, five additional rooms in the back hall of the current emergency department had been inspected and approved to be open for patients at the beginning of next week after all of the computers are installed.
He explained that since the first groups of phases have been completed they have experienced a much more rapid turn around in the amount of time it takes for patient to be placed in a room and for a doctor to see them, which equals an increase of 6 percent in patient satisfaction for waiting times.
“The emergency department currently enjoys faster more efficient services,” Krieger said. “Waiting rooms are updated, with the comfort of children in mind, the rooms are bigger and all are private.”
Officials said the hospital decreased the door-to-doctor time by about 15 minutes and that is with increased volumes. An estimated additional 15,000 patients were seen in the ED than the year before, in less time per patient, officials added.
The national average length of stay in an Emergency Department is about four hours and the average at CCH is now about three hours, 45 minutes.
Before the improvements, the average length of stay in the emergency department was just shy of four hours, or about 3 hours 57 minutes.
The project has made a difference because officials not only focused on an increase in the number of beds, but they also designed a process that would increase the “flow” in the emergency department.
Dougherty explained that they now have the capability to do X-rays and blood tests from the very start of when a patient comes in, so when they are moved into a room some of their results are already done and their treatment has already been initiated.
Dougherty explained that the expansions and renovations planned next will take place in the areas that “are traditionally our main emergency department,” which will be “moving closer to the areas that we function out of.”
Krieger said the renovation of existing exam rooms and ambulance entrance area, along with the construction of a new decontamination area with a patient isolated area, are among the last of the projects to be completed.
“Here on through, they are now going to be working and redesigning the current emergency department that people have come to know,” Dougherty said.