Doors open today to a $17.7 million renovated Adult Emergency Department in the University Hospital, which is designed to provide improved waiting areas and additional space for patient treatment.

The new space added 27 patient rooms and augments the size of the department by nearly 17 percent or 5,800 square feet. Jennifer Holmes, director of operations for the University’s emergency department, said the renovation was necessary to accommodate the increased number of patient visits, which have been approximately 200 each day.

“We needed additional space to meet our patient volume,” Holmes said. “And we really wanted to provide a better space for patients.”

In 2009, a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that emergency department visits had reached 136 million nationwide, a 10-percent increase from the previous year.

Beside meeting spatial needs, the renovations provide more convenient grouping of nursing stations to ease communication.

The new wing also features some aesthetic improvements such as frosted glass, framed photographs and accent colors.

The renovation was possible because the Pediatric Emergency Department moved to the new C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital, which officially opened on Sunday.

The last Adult Emergency Department construction project ended in 2001. However, Holmes said that for the last five or six years, there has been a need for a more open space to allow for a more comfortable triage check-in area and a smoother transition from check-in to an emergency room bed.

“We really felt there was a more efficient way to bring patients in,” Holmes said. “And we had more patients, and we didn’t have enough room.”

Several departments contributed to planning the renovation, including the Information Technology Department, as well as internal and external construction crews.

Steven Kronick, director of advanced cardiac life support and associate service chief of the emergency department, said hospital staff members were instrumental in planning the renovation.

“We included people who will be working in the space in every step along the way, to the point where we mocked up rooms and got staff into the space to see where the equipment was, and how they would interact with the equipment so that it could be used in the most efficient way,” Kronick said.

Holmes said this part of the planning stage allowed staff to make adjustments as necessary.

“We had to do some interim tweaking when we thought the turning radius might be too tight for a stretcher,” she said.

According to Holmes, most of the equipment in the new space is not new, except for the addition of higher-end ultrasound machines. She explained that equipment is replaced when new models are on the market, and thus did not need to be updated because of the renovation.

Holmes also said the delayed opening of the new Mott facility, originally slated for the beginning of November, complicated the new facilities’ unveiling.

“When that got delayed it made things a little hectic, but we worked through it,” she said.

As the new emergency department opens today, Holmes said it is true that the new rooms are a little nicer than the older wings of the department.

“We have the old shoe effect,” she said.

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