Huntington Hospital has completed its new $53 million emergency room, designed to increase efficiency and quickly get patients in front of doctors when it opens Jan. 3.
At 28,000 square feet, the new facility is more than double the current emergency room’s 12,000-square-foot space. It took about 26 months to build, hospital officials announced last Wednesday.
The emergency department will be able to handle as many as 64,000 patients a year in the bigger space: 10,000 more than the current capacity.
The new facility will change the way Huntington Hospital serves emergency patients through a new admissions and treatment process designed to save patients time and get them in front of doctors sooner, said Dr. Gerard X. Brogan Jr., the hospital’s executive director and emergency room physician for 28 years.
Brogan said the difference will be noticeable as soon as patients walk through the door. The new emergency department will have four intake areas to help get people into the system faster by avoiding registration bottlenecks and redundant questions.
Currently, patients in the emergency room start with a triage nurse who takes down a lot of information that the patient is often later asked to repeat several times, including the reason for the visit and past medical history.
In the new facility, the patient’s first point of contact will briefly screen for the reason for the visit, and determine if there is an infectious or life-threatening situation. The patient is then immediately sent to intake.
“The main difference is . . . when you’re giving that initial history of why you’re there, you’re doing it with the nurse, as well as the physician or physician assistant team,” Brogan said. “Within a minute or two of your arrival, you’ve made contact with a medical provider, and you’re giving your information once to the entire team at the same time.”
Any needed blood work is drawn on the spot and sent immediately for analysis, Brogan said, and patients needing X-rays are entered into the line for imaging right away, contributing to a faster, more streamlined experience.
The new emergency center also will have dedicated specialist areas for ob/gyn, behavioral health, trauma, radiology and pediatric patients. It will use new CT scan technology that delivers significantly lower doses of radiation than older machines.
Huntington Hospital received about $3.7 million in donations for the new emergency department, including $2 million from former New York Islander Clark Gillies, with the rest funded through 20-year bonds, Brogan said.
The old emergency building will be converted into an observational unit where the hospital will care for patients who don’t need traditional emergency treatment and may require a longer stay, such as people experiencing chest pains or seizures. Those renovations are not expected to start until mid- to late 2017, Brogan said.
Huntington Hospital is part of Northwell Health, formerly North Shore-LIJ Health System, which has a network of 21 hospitals and more than 500 outpatient practices.