DGH Emergency Department Construction Progressing

Staff and patients are already enjoying some of the benefits of the expansion and renovation underway in the Emergency Department at Dorchester General Hospital. During the second phase of the five-phase construction project, five new patient treatment areas and a two-bed triage area were opened. The ED is now equipped with three battery-operated stretcher chairs, which recline and extend flat so that they can be used as patient beds.

The most noticeable difference that visitors to the ED will see is a new registration area. After stopping to register, individuals in need of care will be taken across the hall to the triage area, where a nurse will do a clinical examination and begin treatment.

When a visitor to the ED presses the intercom to request entry, a staff member will answer the call right away. Cathy Weber, BSN, RN, CEN, manager of emergency services for Dorchester General Hospital, adds, “During construction, we ask for your patience if it takes us a few extra minutes to meet you at the door because we now have to walk around a new area of construction to get to the visitor’s entrance.”

Weber will be relying on the patient advocate volunteers from the Dorchester General Hospital Auxiliary to help guide people as they get used to the new traffic flow. “At times, we may be limiting the number of visitors to keep them safe from construction activity,” Weber says. “Our Auxiliary volunteers will be available on most weekdays to provide updates to family members until they can get back to see their loved ones.”

Phase two upgrades also included staff and physician lounges, a behavioral health patient room, and a convenient storage space for nursing and housekeeping staff.

Phase three of the construction project is moving forward and entails building a new inside entrance to the ED. The final phases of the project will take place in the existing ED treatment areas, where a new nursing station and patient rooms will be built. Around-the-clock patient care will continue throughout construction. The project is expected to be completed by the fall of 2009.

DGH Emergency Department Construction Progressing

Every week, Dorchester General Hospital moves closer to completion of a renovated and expanded Emergency Department. Phase one of the five-phase project is now open and the second phase is due to be completed in early 2009.

“For the first couple of weeks of each phase of construction, things get loud as demolition takes place,” says Cathy Weber, BSN, RN, CEN, manager of emergency services for Dorchester General Hospital. “We appreciate the patience of our patients and visitors during these noisy times.”

Although the construction project is focused on enlarging and upgrading the Emergency Department, other service areas of the hospital are also affected by the construction. The clinical testing laboratory and the Center for Cardiopulmonary Fitness and Wellness share a new waiting area with the Emergency Department. Each of these services has its own reception window for patient registration. The reception areas for the lab and the cardiac rehabilitation program are now open; the ED reception area will relocate when the next phase of the project is completed.

The lab has a new histology preparation area, which medical technologists use to prepare surgical samples for review by pathologists. New office space has also been created for lab staff and for the Emergency Department medical director and administrative staff.

For the first time, Emergency Medical Services personnel have their own secure and private work space adjacent to the Emergency Department. The EMS room is stocked with medications and medical supplies used by EMS personnel to care for patients in ambulances that respond to 911 calls.

“Every year, Shore Health System funds between $70,000 and $100,000 in supplies and medications for EMS staff in Dorchester, Talbot, Caroline and Queen Anne’s counties,” says Mary Alice Vanhoy, MSN, RN, CEN, NREMT-P, Emergency Services Educator and EMS Coordinator for Shore Health System.

“This new space is fabulous,” says Anne Harris, paramedic for the City of Cambridge. She comments that the EMS personnel now have a private place to debrief and discuss complex medical situations. The EMS room is equipped with a refrigerator for refreshments and a computer, which can be used to complete medical documentation.

Whiting-Turner Construction has begun phase two of the Emergency Department project. Work includes building two triage rooms, where ED patients will be assessed by nursing staff to determine the level of care they require. Five new patient treatment areas are under construction, which, when added to the existing 11 patient beds, will expand the ED’s capacity to 16 patient treatment areas. This phase of the project also includes construction of several conveniently located storage areas for the ED nursing staff.

When phase two of the project is completed in early 2009, construction will begin on a new inside entrance to the Emergency Department, staff and physician lounges, and a behavioral health patient room. The final phases of construction will entail renovating the existing ED treatment areas. Around-the-clock patient care will continue throughout construction. The project is expected to be completed by the fall of 2009.

The DGH Emergency Department was last renovated in 1991. Since then, demand for emergency services in Dorchester County has doubled. The total cost of this construction project is expected to exceed $3 million. The ED will grow by approximately 1,500 square feet; the overall project entails renovation of a total of 8,300 square feet, including the ED and related service areas.

In ongoing efforts to maintain a safe and up to date environment at Dorchester General Hospital, an external galvanized steel stairway was installed in early December. The stairs can be used as an exit from the hospital if patients must be evacuated in the event of an emergency.