Southside Hospital in Bay Shore on Thursday unveiled an expanded emergency department that is three times its previous size to address persistent overcrowding at one of the busiest hospitals in Suffolk.
The original emergency department was designed to handle half the 70,000 annual visits seen at Southside, said Dr. John D’Angelo, executive director and senior vice president of emergency medicine services at Northwell Health, which owns the hospital.
Southside added 20,000 square feet to the existing emergency department and designed the building in a way that hospital officials said will allow the staff to deliver care more efficiently.
“It should dramatically reduce the number of patients in the emergency department at any given time, reducing the overcrowding,” D’Angelo said Thursday after the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The Bohlsen Family Emergency Department, named for the kin of restaurateurs John and Linda Bohlsen, and a new helicopter landing pad will open to the public Sept. 13.
Last year, Anthony Macaluso Sr., former chairman of the board of fire commissioners in Deer Park, said wait times to drop off patients in the emergency rooms at Southside Hospital and at Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip reached upward of 40 minutes. The congestion had forced emergency room diversions, which meant ambulances were redirected from Southside to another hospital.
The pressure for emergency services, Macaluso said at the time, will only increase as large housing developments planned in Wyandanch, North Amityville and Brentwood are built.
Members of the Deer Park board of fire commissioners, including Macaluso, could not be reached Thursday for comment.
Although overcrowding still exists at Southside, Alexandra Zendrian, a spokeswoman for Northwell Health, said since March the hospital has not sent ambulances to alternate facilities.
Under the old emergency department, D’Angelo said, all patients, regardless of the seriousness of their injuries, are put on the same track that eventually lead to bottlenecks.
Only 18 percent of the patients who arrived at Southside’s emergency department are admitted, D’Angelo said. The remaining 82 percent are treated and released.
The design of the new facility, D’Angelo said, allows the staff to quickly treat the patients who don’t need to be admitted and send them home. This leads to the less-crowded emergency room.
“So, technically, just reducing our length of stay on that population by 30 minutes will feel like we’re seeing 14,000 patients less a year,” said D’Angelo.
The second phase of the $76 million project is scheduled to be completed in November 2017. That will include five isolation rooms with a decontamination unit to care for infectious-disease patients.