CaroMont Health leaders say decades of patient feedback — and hard won lessons — were incorporated into the design of its new Mount Holly emergency department, which will open next month.
“It’s all about decreasing the patient stress,” said Sharon Summer, CaroMont’s director of emergency services. “Everything, from the open design to the higher ceilings, the windows that let in natural lighting, those are all psychological components we built in to help our patients.”
The $24 million project will offer emergency treatment services to all but the most critical patients.
The 38,000 square foot department will serve residents in northeast Gaston County and northwest Charlotte, a growing market CaroMont estimates at more than 20,000 people.
The freestanding emergency department isn’t the only project CaroMont Health has underway. The nonprofit launched a $13 million expansion of its main campus emergency department in July that should allow it to better serve the roughly 100,000 patients it sees each year.
Summer and CaroMont’s Manager of Emergency Services, Jodie Cook, said the emergency department will feature a “no wait,” treatment model.
How will it work? Patients entering the building will first be met by a nurse who will direct them through outpatient registration or bring them directly to a treatment room for triage. After, they’ll be moved to one of 12 treatment rooms or the results lounge.
Cook and Summer highlighted the center’s results lounge, a wide-open space featuring comfortable furniture, high ceilings and numerous TVs, as another design lesson the hospital has learned from decades of emergency patient care.
“Not every patient that comes will need to spend a night in a hospital bed,” Summer said. “Especially if they’re just waiting on lab or radiology work. By moving them out here, it improves the flow through the facility, and it’s going to make some patients feel much more comfortable.”
What it offers — and what it won’t
The new center will have a full lab, emergency medicine physicians, 25 registered nurses certified in advanced cardiac life support and pediatric advanced life support, in addition to an imaging suite featuring a CT scan, X-ray, ultrasound and, in the future, an MRI machine.
The center is also fully equipped to handle patients brought in by emergency responders — though there are exceptions.
“EMS does bring patients to the closest facility but they also have destination protocols for certain patients,” Cook said. “If they’re treating a stroke victim, they’ll take them to a stroke center.”
The Mount Holly center will, however, be equipped and staffed to handle those conditions to a point, Cook said. Heart attack patients, for instance, could be stabilized then taken to CaroMont’s main emergency department in Gastonia, she said.
Fixing privacy concerns
Cook said CaroMont, like other high traffic emergency care centers, has heard repeatedly about patient privacy concerns in its main campus emergency department. She said the nonprofit focused on those concerns from the project’s start.
“I’ve worked in the ER for 15 years at CaroMont and … we tried to think about every issue we’d heard over the years,” Cook said. “Patient privacy was the big one.”
Treatment rooms now offer separate entrances, one for hospital staff and another for patients’ families. Summer said those offer families a place to sit with patients throughout their visits but are structured so they’re never in the way of hospital staff.
“Families can stay together throughout the process,” Summer said.
Cook said she believes the new center could eventually treat up to a third of the patients who currently go to CaroMont’s main campus — as many as 30,000.
“It was a smart, modular design with built-in space,” Cook said. “Whenever that time comes to expand, I think we’ll be able to do it with no problem.”