The Transformation Continues, A New Emergency Department Opens at Phelps

In November, Phelps Memorial Hospital Center will open a new Emergency Department that is three times the size of the former one with twice as many patient beds. The 18,000-square-foot ER completes the construction projects that began in 2005, which also included a five-story Medical Services Building and a 750-space parking garage that opened last year. Phelps’ campus has doubled in size since the construction projects began.

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Just as the local community supported construction of the Hospital 53 years ago, contributions to Phelps’ 5-year Capital Campaign made it possible to build the $12 million Emergency Department. "We believe that the new emergency department, paid for almost entirely by private philanthropy, is the most innovative ever built in New York State," says Keith Safian, president and CEO of Phelps.

The ER was designed with emphasis on patients’ physical and emotional comfort and offers many unique amenities. There is no waiting room for patients. Instead, after experiencing the soothing sounds of a waterfall as they enter, patients will be quickly assessed and accompanied immediately to one of 32 private rooms for registration, examination, and treatment.

Pat Beall, Nursing Director of the Emergency Department, and the ER staff are very excited about making the transition to the new space. "We think patients will be pleased that they do not have to be delayed in a waiting area anymore," says Beall. "They’ll be welcomed into the department and cared for by an ER team who will guide them through the treatment process." Each team includes physicians – because as has always been the practice at Phelps, every patient who comes to the Emergency Department is seen by a physician.

The patient treatment areas are far from the typical curtain-enclosed cubicles found in most emergency departments. The spacious rooms have walls on each side, sliding glass doors across the front, and curtains for privacy. Each room features a television, a telephone and two chairs so that family members can remain comfortably nearby – or they may wait in one of four waiting alcoves.

The new emergency department has a separate pediatric treatment area with five child-friendly rooms specially decorated for pediatric patients, and an adjacent playroom with computer games for siblings. There are also designated treatment rooms for specialized services, including critical care, gynecology, psychiatry, orthopedics, dentistry, minor surgery, and ENT. These rooms are specially equipped so that staff can match a patient’s condition to the medical equipment required which means faster, more efficient service. Patients who are going to be admitted to the hospital will remain in a private room in a separate, quiet area within the Emergency Department until a hospital bed is available.

Another example of enhanced patient service and comfort is that patients who require diagnostic imaging will no longer need to be transported upstairs to the inpatient radiology department. The new ER has its own 24-hour radiology suite, complete with digital x-ray technology and a 64-slice CT scanner with cardiac capabilities, offering convenience and a significantly shorter wait for diagnostic test results.

For patients with infectious conditions, or who require decontamination due to radiological, biological or chemical emergencies, the new emergency department has dedicated isolation and decontamination units with the latest technology and protective equipment. Each of these units has a separate ventilation system to prevent cross-contamination.

The new Phelps Emergency Department will rival the finest emergency departments in the country for patient comfort, efficiency and service. "The ER really is the window of the hospital," says Dr. Emil Nigro, Director of Emergency Services. "We think that our community will appreciate what they now have in this new facility."

For a virtual tour of the new emergency department at Phelps Memorial Hospital Center, go to www.phelpshospital.org and click on the image at the top of the page. For an actual tour, come to the Open House on November 4 (Election Day) between 4-8 pm. The new facility will officially open its doors in November. More information is available at 914-366-3109.

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About the Author: Mary Sernatinger