CHI Health St. Francis opens newly renovated emergency department

Local4 News at 10
Published: Aug. 17, 2023 at 11:00 PM CDT
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - After navigating the challenges posed by the pandemic, CHI Health St. Francis used those lessons learned and applied them to the design of their newly renovated emergency department.

The hospital invested $13 million into the project which now spans 27,000 square feet and has 26 exam rooms. CHI Health St. Francis President Edward Hannon said the upgrades were needed because the hospital’s ER was built in the 1970s.

Hannon said they always want to meet the community’s needs by bringing in new technology and services. To do this, they needed more space and new infrastructure. He said the upgrades will make this ER the space they need for now and decades to come.

Hannon believes these upgrades won’t only help Grand Island, but also all of the surrounding communities they serve. The ER was designed by staff and providers at the hospital to fit their workflow and patient needs.

“It’s the staff who are going to be here delivering care every day as we move forward and so it’s really their input to design a space the way that made sense for them and the way we take care of patients and move patients and equipment and services around the department to make sure that equipment that you need for one patient is close by,” said Hannon.

Hannon said the new design places emergency care patients closer to the ambulance entrance, so they can get treatment quicker. The emergency entrance will return to the north side of the hospital and will be open for 24 hours. The exterior will also have a protective canopy. This reconfiguration is expected to improve communication between physicians and nurses.

“One of the issues we’ve had in old space and the space we have now is we’re in two different areas, which will slow down communication between nurses and physicians,” said Anthony Cook, Medical Director, CHI Health St. Francis. “This is going to alleviate that, we’re all going to be there real time going over the same information. We’re taking care of the same patient so it’s really going to help.”

Dr. Cook said nurses are the eyes and ears of physicians and that establishing a direct line of communication saves valuable time compared to locating a physician in a separate room or calling them on their phone. The hospital also upgraded its trauma room. At first, they could only treat one patient at a time but now, they can treat as many as five patients. Cook hopes this leads to easier patient flow.

“When we designed the emergency department we gave great thought to several things,” said Hannon. “One is the flow of the patient. Do we have good private areas for the patients to come in and register to be seen so they can have some privacy as they come in. Security is certainly an issue today, all around the country, and in hospitals and it’s growing.”

Hannon said with violent crimes on the rise, St. Francis wanted to make sure the ER is a safe place for staff and patients. Their new open concept will help with that.

“One of the nice things about where it is, is we can see into the patient rooms,” said Cook. “Where we’re at now we’re tucked into a corner at the end we can’t see into the patient rooms. We rely on monitors a lot to tell us what’s going on, but that’s not a substitute for seeing the patient. They can get out attention and we can get their attention it’s just a big difference.”

Cook said having everything in close proximity matters when lives are on the line.

“When a trauma patient needs something they need it right now,” said Cook. “They don’t need it in 30 seconds, where we can run down the hall and get it, they need that treatment right now and so having these carts, having the cabinets, having the overhead equipment. That’s going to hopeful lead to better patient outcomes and quicker treatment for the patients.”

There will be an open house for the public Saturday, August 19 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.