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An ER makeover for WellSpan York Hospital

The renovated emergency department at WellSpan York Hospital includes specialized pediatric rooms, like the one pictured here. - (Photo / Submitted)

The latest phase in the renovation of WellSpan York Hospital’s emergency department was completed this week.

On Wednesday, York Hospital’s new emergency room opened, and the next phase of the renovation project is underway.

The $50 million project started in summer 2014, and is expected to be complete in early 2017.

The hospital underwent extensive planning and consulting to improve its systems and design the ultimate space for emergency care, according to David Vega, medical director and chairman of emergency medicine at York Hospital.

With this new design, the health system expects to be able to see more patients and care for them using innovative technology.

More space

While the original emergency department was designed to serve about 45,000 patients per year, the current patient volume is 82,000.

Vega believes the increase in ER use is directly related to more people having access to health plans through the Affordable Care Act.

The renovated emergency department is designed to meet an estimated annual capacity of 90,000 patients, Vega said.

The renovated space has a new entrance and waiting area, as well as multiple patient care areas.

A nurse, or as WellSpan is calling it, a “quick nurse,” will assess patients upon their arrival to the emergency department. That person will determine where patients nees to go for care.

Care options include critical, pediatric and an area called the Rapid Unit.

The Rapid Unit is a space designed to serve patients with less-severe conditions. It features10 private rooms that can serve patients with dental, eye, orthopedic other problems.Lab and imaging facilities also are available in the unit, as well as a separate waiting area for patients.

The critical care area serves patients with severe conditions. It has 19 private exam rooms and three resuscitation rooms.

Towards the back of the department are three pediatric rooms that are somewhat separate from the rest of the emergency care area.

Overall, the emergency department is designed so that traffic flows through outer corridors, while private rooms are located in the center.

The first phase of the project, which was completed in February 2015, was construction of a larger helipad – 3,000 additional square feet – that incorporated an automatic snow-melt system.

WellSpan Hospital is the only designated Level I trauma center in York, Adams, Lancaster and Franklin Counties.

Derry Township-based Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Dauphin County is the only other Level I trauma center in the midstate, but there are several Level II trauma centers.

What’s next?

The remaining phase of the renovation includes renovating space for additional specialty care areas that the emergency department does not currently have.

A behavioral health unit, a sexual assault forensic exam suite and a transitional care unit for emergency treatment are on the way.

The behavioral health unit will address the increased demand for services, partly due to the opioid epidemic, which is creating an increase in overdoses in the state, according to Vega.

Patients who are coming in for emergency behavioral health often have a wait between their emergency visit and being placed in some form of long-term treatment.

This new space will give WellSpan the ability to keep those patients comfortable and start that process.

The unit will have six private rooms, two interview rooms and two quiet rooms.

Behavioral health efforts have been of special interest to the health system, as it became affiliated with Lebanon County-based Philhaven of Mount Gretna, the 14th-largest mental and behavioral health provider in the nation, in spring 2015.

The sexual assault forensic exam, or SAFE, unit will have private rooms with forensic exam capabilities.

There will be 22 private rooms, including six for chest pain observation, in the emergency transitional care unit.

The final phase will complete the health system’s vision of more efficient service in the emergency department.

“When we started this project 18 months ago, we had a vision for a new, modern emergency department that would make us more efficient but would also improve the overall experience for our patients and their families,” Keith Noll, senior vice president of WellSpan Health and president of WellSpan York Hospital said. “With the opening of this latest phase, that vision is starting to take shape.”

Lenay Ruhl

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