Swedish Covenant Hospital Shows Off Newly Renovated Emergency Room

Lisa Fielding
August 21, 2018 - 2:16 pm

WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- During any one shift at the Swedish Covenant Hospital Emergency Room, there are four doctors, 20 nurses and dozens of patients waiting to be seen which can, often times, lead to long wait times. Tuesday, the hospital officially opened its new ER complete with $12 million worth of renovations.

"This has been a two year project," said Kimberly Leslie, Clinical Director, Emergency Department.

"We had patients in halls before and now we use better allocation of space to make them rooms. We have three pods that can take care of acute care patients, each has nine beds, each has its own attending, nurses, techs and works independently," Leslie said.

Leslie said the project also added more triage rooms, behavioral health rooms and a sexual assault room, one of the first of its kind in the area.

"There's a shower in here, there's privacy, it's off the main hallway. It's decorated so it's a little less medical looking," she said. "Privacy is the main thing here. There are medical and emotional needs that need to be addressed. If law enforcement needs to come talk to her, there's some privacy without others watching. We all know when we have a patient now, we don't we have a patient of sexual assault, we can say we have a patient for Room 23 and everyone understands the importance of that patient." 

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The renovated 17,000 square feet of the department adds 27 acute rooms, 10 triage/quick care rooms, an EKG room, three internal waiting rooms, four hall suites with oxygen and a separate behavioral health unit.

"We have a behavioral health suites where the patients are removed from the cast. The rooms have very little equipment in them, keeps it safe, decreases stimulation," Leslie said.

The ER design was created with input from physicians, nurses and other staff.

"It was fun, being a nurse, to be able to design it for how we work. Every room is the same, left hand, right hand and we should be able to do it from muscle memory and not worry about which room am I in, where are the supplies? We also wanted it to be beautiful," Leslie said.

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Dr. Bruce McNulty is the Chief Medical Officer and ER physician.

"Patients often perceive that doctors are always in a rush. My family owns a movie theater so I suggested how about theater chairs. Can we attach folding chairs, two for families and another one for the physician to sit down. The chairs fold right up when we need space," he said. "I also helped design the mobile, leather recycling chairs with wheels. If we need space, we can move them from triage to X-ray back to the treatment area without having to get up and down and they don't look like wheelchairs."

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"It's new for us. It's great because it allows us to take care of pediatric patients separate from other people who are having behavioral crisis, we take care of our sexual assault patients in a private room, it really helps separate care and give the best care for every patient," said Keri Robertson, Chair, Emergency Medicine.

The original part of emergency department dates to the 1970's and the department was last expanded in 2006. The hospital has one of the busiest ERs in the city and sees about 54,000 patients a year. 

WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding

"We hope because of our new size, we can cut our wait times down. We're going to put a provider in triage so people will be seen immediately at the door. We hope this will cut down our wait times and we'll see people faster," Robertson said.

The next phase of construction will begin immediately. The entire project is expected to be completed in December.