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St. Mary Opens the First Phase of its Emergency Department and Trauma Center Expansion
New State-of-the-Art Facility Enhances the Patient Experience

LANGHORNE, PA, December 5, 2012 – St. Mary Medical Center proudly announces that Phase 1 of the Emergency Department and Trauma Center Expansion is now complete and ready to treat patients. St. Mary began the $22 million expansion and redesign of its Emergency Department and Trauma Center last year with the intent to transform the way emergency care is provided to the community while increasing its capacity to serve the increasing volume of patients seeking care.

“This expansion at St. Mary is not just about adding space; more significantly it is the complete redesign of the way we are providing care to the patient,” says Dr. Gary Zimmer, Medical Director of Emergency Services. “We’ve had great success with the Split-Flow model of emergency care, which we implemented early in June, even before the expansion was finished, to help us more effectively handle our increasing volume of patients. As this new area is specifically designed to accommodate this innovative change in patient flow, it can only improve how patients experience a visit. They can expect to see a physician quicker and overall spend a shorter amount of time for an emergency room visit. It is all about getting the care patients need delivered to them in a more efficient timeframe.”

New Amenities For Patient Care

The Phase 1 Expansion adds 18 individual private treatment rooms. Each patient room has a glass door, not a curtain, its own bathroom, TV and comfortable family seating. To enhance patient care, each room also is equipped with a computer to expedite documentation of a patient’s medical record, and a medical supply cart that provides nurses with quick access to commonly used necessities, such as IV tubing. The traditional centrally located nurses station has been replaced with small alcove stations located between treatment rooms to provide nurses closer contact and direct visualization of patients. St. Mary is the only Regional Trauma Center in Bucks County, and new state-of-the-art Trauma Bays that are part of the expansion will increase the capability of the Trauma Center to treat patients. Also advancing care is a new CAT scanner located in the department that will provide immediate access for diagnosing trauma, stroke and heart-attack patients. A new ambulance entrance will provide more convenient access to trauma bays and urgent care for adult and pediatric patients.

Nitrous Oxide Capable

A unique feature will be the capacity to provide the light sedation of nitrous oxide, especially in treating young children who tend to be quite fearful and highly agitated by routine medical procedures, including stitches for cuts and lacerations. Nitrous oxide, an odorless gas frequently used in dentistry, is considered an ideal analgesic agent for use in emergency rooms. It is simple to use, does not require an injection, and is administered using a breathable gas mask. It has few side effects, is quick to work and quickly offsets with no lasting effects or known interactions with other drugs.

Last year, the Bristol-Myers Squibb Emergency Pediatric Care Center at St. Mary Medical Center treated 17,000 children. Dr. Nathan Ruch, Associate Director of Pediatric Care at St. Mary, has seen the benefits in the use of nitrous oxide. “We believe we are the first pediatric emergency care center in the area to implement the use of nitrous oxide,” says Dr. Ruch. “The gas works very quickly and allows the physician to perform a medical procedure on a young child without the pain or stress. And parents are more relaxed because their child is not crying hysterically or vehemently resisting treatment. As a parent, I certainly would want my child to have the most safe and comfortable experience possible when receiving emergency care.”

Nitrous oxide sedation is available in the new pediatric resuscitation room, which also is fully equipped as a level-one trauma room with dedicated staff, equipment, and supplies to treat young patients. The pediatric resuscitation room includes dedicated space for the safe sedation of children to minimize the anxiety and discomfort of procedures.

EMS Friendly

St. Mary has added amenities for emergency medical squads providing transport for patients. The new ambulance entrance is a covered portion of the emergency parking garage and will protect patients and transport personnel from the elements, including rain and snow. Specially equipped ambulance bays near the ambulance entrance will provide squads with power outlets to recharge equipment and power wash lines and drains to clean their ambulance inside and out. A newly installed ventilation system will preserve air quality in the garage should any ambulance engines remain running. And, a new squad room will provide workspace and wireless access for squads to complete reports and relax in comfort before their next call.

The Success of Split Flow

The Split-Flow Model of emergency care now being used at St. Mary is designed to parallel process triage and registration, have patients seen by a provider as quickly as possible, and to effectively manage patients based the severity of their conditions. Long-wait-times during an emergency department visit are a major reason for low patient satisfaction scores and increase the potential of a patient leaving before receiving medical care. The change to the Split-Flow model, which was introduced and implemented in partnership with our physicians from TeamHealth, represents the ongoing commitment at St. Mary to performance improvement to provide the highest standards in quality patient-centered care. The Emergency Department at St. Mary currently is treating nearly 6,000 patients a month, while the time until a patient sees a physician has been cut in half and recent patient satisfaction scores are cited in the top 2 percent nationwide.

Using the Split-Flow Model of care, patients are first seen by a nurse immediately upon entering the Emergency Department. The experienced nurse greets the patient upon arrival, and uses the guidelines of the Emergency Severity Index to determine the anticipated level of care needed by the person seeking treatment. A patient is assigned to Pediatric, Prompt Care, Acute Care, or an Expedited Treatment Area (ETA). Pediatrics, Prompt and Acute care are most familiar to people using emergency services and it is the commitment to getting them seen by a physician within a remarkably reduced time frame that distinguishes the new restructuring process in the Emergency Department.

The ETA is a resource-intense process in which evaluations, studies and tests are quickly done, and the patient moves to a comfortable environment to await results and treatment decisions. An emergency physician, registered nurse, and medical technician work as an integrated team to efficiently evaluate patients whose medical conditions require more information before a diagnosis and course of treatment can be decided. Some patients may wait for the results of blood tests or x-rays while resting in recliner chairs. This “vertical” capacity saves space and keeps beds available for the sickest patients. The Split-Flow process calls for a tight coordination of support across many departments, including Imaging, Laboratory, Transport, and Environmental Services.

Future Expansions

Phase 2 of the Emergency Department and Trauma Center Expansion is expected to be completed in Spring 2013, and will include an attractive new front entrance and reception areas for patients who arrive on their own, not by ambulance. Phase 3 of the Emergency Department and Trauma Center Expansion is expected to be completed in Summer 2013 and will include final renovations of existing space. The current pediatric care center also will be expanded to include a dedicated pediatric triage area and separate reception areas – one for sick (potentially contagious) children and one for well (non-contagious) children.<.p>

Capabilities of the St. Mary Emergency Department and Trauma Center

The St. Mary Emergency Department and Trauma Center handle a wide range of illnesses and injuries with specialized medical teams prepared to respond immediately to traumas, strokes, and heart attacks. St. Mary provides around-the-clock access to advance brain, spine, orthopedic, and open-heart surgery; cardiovascular catheterization; digital X-ray; CAT scan; laboratory and other emergency services. The St. Mary Emergency Department and Trauma teams provide the advanced level of critical care offered in many metropolitan-area hospitals. The new expansion and redesign will provide the ability to care for up to 100,000 people annually to help meet the increasing need in the region for prompt and advanced emergency care. St. Mary Medical Center is committed to delivering the highest quality patient-centered care using leading-edge technology and best-practice standards to serve the healthcare needs of our community.