Mercy opens new, improved emergency department



By Charita Goshay

This article originally appeared at:

Mercy Medical Center's new and improved emergency department is open for business.

Mercy Medical Center’s renovated emergency department is open for business.

The two-year, $14.7 million project features more beds and specialized services to meet increasing demand, while improving patient flow and reducing waiting time, said Dr. Frank Kaeberlein, chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine.

For example, the new department features a five-bed triage unit and an in-house radiology suite.

“This is much faster as opposed to the old style,” Kaeberlein said. “This way, patients are seen by a medical provider right away for testing and/or pain medications before being sent to a main ED bed.”

Mercy Medical, like most hospitals across the country, is seeing a higher volume of emergency department patients, from 45,000 a year in the 1990s to 65,000 today, Kaeberlein said. Medicaid expansion and passage of the Affordable Care Act means the numbers likely will grow.

Nationally, the average time an emergency patient first sees a doctor is about one hour, Kaeberlein said. Mercy’s goal, he said, is to reduce that time to 10 to 30 minutes.

To help achieve that, the department has added 20 additional staffers and increased its beds from 32 to 54, including eight designated for “minor care” such as lacerations or colds.

“It’s a concept that’s worked well for a year,” Kaeberlein said. “They used to get mixed in with sicker patients and get ‘pushed back.’ ”

Jason M. Pirtz, administrative director of Critical Care Services, said the new setup is about taking a smarter approach to delivering treatment.

“It’s about allocating the appropriate resources for the appropriate patient population,” he said.


The upgrade also includes new cardiac monitors, flat-screen TVs, more comfortable seating for visitors, and a new call-light system that will relay more specific information to the staff on duty while decreasing the overall noise level, said Gerald Clarke, a clinical nurse manager.

“It’s already a high-stress area,” he said. “It should streamline the process.”

The rooms also have Wi-Fi accessibility for iPads and smartphones.

Clarke said the department also boasts an emergency dental suite — the first in Ohio — and that medical residents also are available to handle ear, nose and throat emergencies.

The Mercy Development Foundation and Mercy Service League have raised $6.1 million to help pay for the project. The hospital’s last emergency department renovation occurred in the 1990s.

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