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Washington Adventist Hospital Renovates Emergency Department to Reduce Overcrowding, Holds Gala Fundraising

By Lydia Parris

Washington Adventist Hospital (WAH) recently unveiled its newly modernized Emergency Department (ED), which should enhance patient care and reduce the potential for overcrowding and long waits. Overcrowding of emergency rooms has been a significant concern at hospitals across the nation for the past several years.

“Our Emergency Department was originally designed to care for 25,000 patients,” said Carlos McCormack, executive director of the hospital’s Emergency Department. “We are now seeing more than 45,000 patient visits a year. Increased efficiency was needed in order to accommodate this current and future growth and ensure the continued delivery of safe, quality care to our patients.”

Before planning for the redesign began, hospital officials had already been taking steps to improve wait times in the Emergency Department. However, they soon realized a larger and more efficient triage area—which creates extra space for rapid medical evaluation of patients when emergency department beds are full—was necessary to improve patient flow and reduce the potential for overcrowding. In addition, hospital staff and resources are more readily available to meet any incoming emergency patient need, of any acuity.

The upgraded Emergency Department at Washington Adventist Hospital has several new elements that allow for more rapid treatment of patients, including:

• A larger triage area, which allows for simultaneous medical evaluation by a physician, nurse and technician as soon as a patient enters the emergency department.

• Special training of ED staff in the rapid assessment and treatment of patients.

• A fast-track area dedicated to those who are less seriously ill, or injured, so that they receive appropriate care in a short time.

• The use of the portable clinical analyzer “I-Stat” and new ultrasound technology at the patient’s bedside provides a rapid diagnosis. Immediate visualization of body systems allows for timely treatment. This is especially important for the acutely ill or injured patient.

•“We believe this could be a model for other hospitals faced with the challenge of ED overcrowding,” said Dr. Drew White, medical director of the hospital’s Department of Emergency Medicine. “Our community is getting better care because of this new system of treatment.”

In the first month of operation, the number of patients who leave the emergency department without being seen by medical personnel because the wait is too long, dropped by a third. Since the new triage area opened in early December, the hospital has had zero hours of diversion—which occurs when emergency responders are asked to take patients to the next nearest hospital because an emergency department is at capacity.

“Modernizing this area of the hospital is an example of our commitment to improving our current facilities and services and enhancing the quality of care we provide the community,” said Jere Stocks, president of Washington Adventist Hospital.

The hospital also held its 20th Annual Black-Tie Gala in Greenbelt, Md., which raised more than $166,000 to fund the renovations. More than 450 people enjoyed the music of the Tom Cunningham Orchestra. Johnny Holliday, the voice of the Maryland Terrapins, served as the evening’s Master of Ceremonies. The Washington Adventist Hospital Foundation also provided a total of $250,000 to fund the renovation and upgrade of the Emergency Department.