Nearly $3 million in upgrades and a new layout aim to give emergency department patients at Touchette Regional Hospital the patient care they deserve.
For the past two years, the hospital has undergone $2.8 million in renovations. The result is an emergency department that features 12 patient rooms -- seven additional rooms than before -- including two new behavioral health rooms and a patient isolation room. But the biggest change will be a new layout which aims to provide enhanced service and improved safety for faster, more efficient care for patients.
“The basic design is really the biggest deal,” said Tom Mikkelson, chief operation officer at the hospital. “To pull patients in and treat them quickly.”
The emergency department upgrades are expected to be ready for patient use in early January, according to Neil Kiesel, director of communications at Southern Illinois Healthcare Foundation.
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The new layout is called a “race track” because it places doctors and nurses in a centralized area of the emergency department, with patient rooms surrounding them in a circular formation, which aims to provide easier access, Kiesel explained.
Recently, the emergency department has been operating on three different floors of the hospital.
The project was funded through a grant from the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Larry McCulley, president and chief executive officer of Southern Illinois Healthcare Foundation, thanked board members and State Sen. James Clayborne, D-Belleville, and former U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Belleville, for their help in making the renovations a reality.
Lesley Paterson, vice president of nursing at Touchette, showed visitors around the new department Thursday afternoon. When repeat patients enter, they will use a finger point scan of their index finger to bring up their medical records and ensure their identity. In addition, nurses will perform bedside triage in most instances, all with the aim to keep patients flowing through the emergency department, Paterson explained.
“We don’t want it be a stopping point,” she said.
Special rooms will help address certain situations: A decontamination room may be used if a patient came in after a hazardous spill. Patients expressing suicidal or homicidal threats will be taken to the behavioral health rooms. And infectious patients may be placed in the isolation room.
All rooms are set up the same, to keep doctors, nurses and other staff moving quickly through to treat patients, Paterson said.
About 12,000 metro-east patients visit the emergency department at Touchette each year. However, Mikkelson said he expects the number of patients to rise now that the facility has expanded and offers more for patients and staff.
Beth Bogacki, director of emergency services, said: “We are excited because it’s going to have a new flow that we’ve never had.”
With all the upgrades, Mikkelson said, “The heart of the program is the ability to take care of patients.”
Mikkelson wished visitors, community leaders and media who attended the event happy holidays. With his arms spread wide gesturing to the new emergency department he said, “We’ve got our present.”