Palmerston North Hospital’s Emergency Department (ED) is now three-quarters of the way through a 12-month refurbishment that aims to transform the journey for patients through the service. It is the ﬁrst refurbishment to the ED since it was built nearly 30 years ago.
MidCentral DHB Acute Care and Hospital operations service manager, Carrie Naylor-Williams, says that being such a busy department the lack of space was contributing to privacy and conﬁ dentiality issues.
While the department was originally designed to cater for around 20,000 patients per year, however it now sees between 45,000 and 50,000 patients annually – anywhere from 90-150 during each 24-hour period.
The project will result in a more efﬁcient use of the space and a more comfortable environment for the beneﬁ t of patients, their family/ whanau and staff.
Palmerston North-based Buildrite Construction which, together with 16 sub-contractors, is completing the project.
While the building footprint of the ED is not increasing in area, additional space has been achieved by relocating some activities to repurposed rooms along a connecting corridor.
“Previously patients presenting to ED were triaged in the public waiting room which meant that their problem could be overheard by other people who were also waiting,” explains Carrie.
“However, we now have dedicated triage cubicles where patients, their family/whanau and medical staff can talk without concern of being overhead; signiﬁcantly enhancing privacy and conﬁ dentiality.” The same will be true for patients who arrive by ambulance.
Previously handovers from St John paramedics to ED staff took place in an open corridor whereas they will now also take place in dedicated cubicles.
Carrie says that the new triage cubicles are also more appropriate for starting each patient’s clinical pathway – being assessed, given pain relief and having diagnostic tests such as blood tests, ECGs, medical imaging or other medical treatment.
Reconﬁguring space has also enabled the creation of private rooms in which staff and family/whanau can talk freely and have more open and frank conversations. “This ultimately helps staff to do their job efﬁciently, which is very important,” she says.
The ED’s sub-acute area, for treating minor injuries and conditions, has also been expanded to provide a more efﬁcient workspace and help improve the ﬂow of patients.
Still to be completed is the new ED public entrance, reception and waiting area, with the project expected to be fully ﬁnished this November.
Carrie says patients and visitors have been very accommodating of the build process and particularly helpful has been the excellent working relationship between the construction contractors and ED staff.
Buildrite Construction co-director Noel Kitching says that they are very mindful of the variable demands on ED and surrounding hospital departments and other services.
“Refurbishing a busy ED has its challenging aspects, like limiting the loss of and working around operational clinical spaces, all while minimising disruption and nuisance as much as possible,” he says.
“For what the staff have endured, such as noise from concrete breaking, grinding and drilling, we cannot emphasise enough their amazing tolerance, patience and understanding, especially during the busy and stressful times that ED has. Their management, organisation and cooperation has been amazing.”
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