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  January 26, 2004

Emergency Department Renovations
Boost Capacity, Service

The Emergency Department at John Dempsey Hospital has increased its number of treatment beds by 50 percent - from 12 to 18 - to accommodate the growing number of patients and maintain high quality care.

Image: Dr. Beth DeGennaro and nurse manager Kathleen Lundquist

Dr. Beth DeGennaro, left, and Kathleen Lundquist, nurse manager, look over records at the nurses' station in the renovated emergency department at the UConn Health Center.

Photo by Peter Morenus

The increase in the number of beds was part of a nine-month, $750,000 renovation project that also included purchase of a small decontamination building, installation of a HEPA filtration system in the waiting room, and partitions for the registration area.

"The Emergency Department was bursting at the seams, " says Richard Allen, project-planning coordinator for the Department of Planning and Construction. The renovations rearranged existing space inside the Emergency Department without changing the size of the facility. "We reshuffled and made better use of the space," says Allen.

The number of patients visiting the Emergency Department has increased steadily, rising from 17,367 visits in 2000 to 22,215 in 2003.

"We simply needed more rooms for patients," says Kathleen Lundquist, nursing manager for the Emergency Department. "We also moved the nursing station to a location that is more central to the treatment rooms, which helps us be more efficient and responsive to the patients."

Purchase of the decontamination building, which sits outside the entrance to the Emergency Department, is a response to the growing emphasis on emergency prepared- ness in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

"That event made us all much more aware of the importance of decontamination facilities," says Lundquist.

The Emergency Department developed a temporary plan that involved the use of showers outside in the driveway area for decontamination. The decontamination building is a better facility, and helps eliminate any chance of contaminating the Emergency Department and ultimately the rest of the building.

Additionally, partitions now separate the registration area from the waiting room. Two small newly created offices give registering patients and staff greater privacy.

A HEPA air filtering system was also installed in the waiting room, the registration area, and in an isolation room.

"The ED is an area that accommodates people with potentially contagious illnesses before they even know they have one," says Allen. "The filtering system cleans the air before it is circulated back outside, to prevent airborne transmission of infection or contamination."

The Emergency Department is often considered the gateway to the rest of the hospital, since many patients go on to receive other health services, such as inpatient care and specialty consultations.

"We have consistently received high marks from our patients on satisfaction surveys and quality rankings," says Lundquist. "These renovations will help us maintain the high quality of care and service we provide."

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