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
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
“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
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
“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.”