Providence Hospital, the hospital nearest to Brookland, located at 12th and Varnum Streets, NE, will be expanding, modernizing and improving its Emergency Department. We attended a community meeting earlier this week and thought our readers would be interested in hearing about it. Providence Hospital is the longest continuously operating hospital in Washington DC, was chartered by President Lincoln in 1861, and has been in its current location for 57 years.
The current Emergency Department facilities were built to accommodate 27,000 visits a year, but in recent years, they have been actually getting about double that amount of patients. For example, they saw 171 patients last Monday, but the Emergency room is only built for 80 patients at a time. So, the Hospital started crafting a plan to improve and expand their facilities. After getting input from members of the community through venues like ANC meetings, they decided to complete the project much earlier than originally planned. At first, the expansion was to be complete in 5 years, but now the project is starting earlier and is scheduled to be completed 18 months from now.
One of the immediate improvements, coming next month, will be the integration of the Emergency Department’s electronic medical record system, established in 2001, with rest of hospital’s records. The expansion will be an inward, and by rearranging departments, the Emergency Department will grow from 13,000 to 24,000 square feet; and will incorporate an open floor plan. The management team leading the presentation noted that the focus of these improvements is not to see more patients, per se, but to take better care of existing patients with increased privacy and dignity. One of the things I liked about the new layout is designated areas for patients with specific needs, for example, a separate sexual assault victims area, and another more isolated area for patients in police custody with a waiting area for law enforcement officers. There will be 4 of these “zones”, each with their own exam rooms, doctors, nurses, and other staff. Another design change will be a smaller general waiting room, because the emphasis will be getting incoming patients where they need to be quicker.
In addition to the new layout and expansion, the department will benefit from new electric and other infrastructure, and an overall modern, and more efficient facility. Coupled with the physical changes will be a re-thinking about how the Emergency Department conducts its business, and will include a new Human Resources plan. As Dr. Strudwick, Director of the Emergency Department stated “this will not be a new facility with old processes”. For example, one idea the team is considering is creating an application where the public can check Emergency Room wait times on-line and with their smart phones. The expansion will be done in phases, and is expected to be completed by late summer 2014. During construction there will always be a minimum of 33 beds available daily and a mobile trailer will be set up to see people who are not in critical need. The management team at the meeting was incredibly welcoming and interested in hearing what the public thought. There will more chances for community input in the future, so stay tuned.
Note: Renderings are courtesy of FreemanWhite healthcare consulting.