How do you renovate a busy emergency department without interrupting patient care?
Scott Williams, construction manager for Johnston Health, says coordinating all of the moving parts is like playing a shell game. But thanks to a well-thought-out plan and an accommodating ED staff, construction on the Smithfield Emergency Department is going smoothly and ahead of schedule, he says.
Williams is hopeful the entire renovation can be wrapped up by late January. TA Loving is the contractor for the long-anticipated project, which is expected to cost about $1 million.
So what’s in store?
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Since Sept. 1, patients and visitors have been using a temporary side entrance and reception area while construction crews remodel the former front lobby. Plans call for reconfiguring the left side into four intake rooms, offices and a reception area. On the right side, the two former triage rooms will give way to a larger reception area. The existing bathrooms in the lobby will get new finishes and fixtures.
Williams is hopeful the new lobby will be ready in November.
In a second phase of the project, the department will gain six private exam rooms. Four of these will be in the former stretcher triage area, and two others, plus a restroom, will be is in what is now the staff break room. All the new rooms will have med gas connections and flat screen TVs.
Also, at the back of the department, an existing soiled-utility room and physician on-call room will make way for two full-size critical exam rooms in a third phase.
The department will gain about 2,000 square feet by expanding into the north corridor. Much-needed storage, physician on-call and break rooms will fill this space.
Williams says the plan calls for painting the existing exam rooms, including the minor treatment rooms at the front of the department. “We’ll do one room at a time throughout the project,” he says. In addition to paint, the trauma rooms will get new cabinets and flooring.
An elevated center island, which is the hub of the treatment area, will stay intact. However, the nursing stations, which are now on the counters around the island’s perimeter, may be moved up and inside the deck so that nurses can face out over the patients in the exam rooms.
“Once we’re done, we’ll have a fresh new look, additional space for treating patients, and a new floor plan that will help our department be more efficient,” Williams says.