Author: Raymond Moreno, M.D., chief medical officer, Providence St. Vincent Medical Center
The emergency department at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center is the busiest in the Portland metro area, accommodating more than 80,000 visits per year. Providence St. Vincent is both the local community hospital for the west side and a destination for patients needing our specialized care in areas such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, behavioral health and pediatrics.
Since the hospital’s opening in 1994, Oregon’s growing and aging population has pushed the 30-year-old emergency department to the limits. The growth is projected to continue, with an expected 100,000 visits annually in the next 20 years.
Wait times are long and getting longer, providers and nurses are running out of space to care for patients, ambulances sometimes must go elsewhere, and caregiver and patient safety can be a concern.
We deliver really great care here at Providence St. Vincent, including being named among the 2023 Top 50 hospitals in the U.S. by Healthgrades for the third consecutive year, but there are things that we want to do better and faster to better serve our community.
Features of the new ED
As we grow to serve more than 100,000 patients each year, our new emergency facility will be larger, with 84 total treatment spaces compared to 58 today. It also will be safer and smarter, designed to provide faster and more efficient care.
Two CT scanners will help eliminate bottlenecks and speed diagnoses; six private spaces will allow care to begin upon arrival; full-time visibility from the triage area will increase safety and security; state-of-the-art mobile monitors will increase patient care; a “results pending” area will be used for patients who are stable (thus freeing up beds for more critical patients); and ambulance diversions will be cut in half. In all, providers and clinical teams, including those on call, will be able to care for patients in a modern department that is safer, more efficient and more comfortable.
Growing to meet the needs of our communities
In October 2022, Providence Oregon embarked on a $45 million fundraising campaign to re-imagine emergency care at Providence St. Vincent. Led by co-chairs Andy and Nancy Bryant, this fundraising effort is a major priority for Providence Oregon and will help the hospital provide faster, better emergency care to more people.
Here’s a glance at what it’s like to work in our emergency department today, which is a testament to the daily stressors facing our excellent providers and care teams.
Comments from the front line
There are no greater experts about the need for a new ED than the providers, nurses and care teams who work there every day. We interviewed many of our ED providers and caregivers when deciding how to re-imagine the new ED. Here are a few excerpts:
Kenneth Bizovi, M.D., emergency department
What are your biggest frustrations with the current facility?
“I’m very proud of our stroke care. We continue to shave seconds off the time it takes us to get a patient the care they need. But we’re basically working in a space that was created to store equipment. The new facility will accommodate the full team needed for a high-acuity event – and that includes family members who can contribute critical information about when the stroke may have occurred.
With the arrival care zone and triage process, we’ll be able to see people much more quickly and keep the waiting area empty more often. This will improve patient care and caregiver morale – as a caregiver, it can be pretty daunting to look at a waiting area filled with 40 people.”
What makes you excited about the new facility?
“The most exciting thing will be streamlining care for patients. They will have their needs addressed much faster with the arrival care zone. We’ll be able to provide EKGs with much more privacy, get IVs started and blood drawn for tests much more quickly. Patients who are stable can go to results pending. For patients who are sicker, we’ll have more rooms available.
Because staffing is always on our mind, it will be a nicer place to work, because we’ll know we’re able to provide the kind of care that makes us proud.”
Gina Ottinger, RN, charge nurse, emergency department
How does the current facility affect patient care and experience?
“Our current layout is challenging, beginning right at the triage area. People check in and then go sit in a lobby that is not very visible to the triage nurse. With the new remodel, we’ll be able to see the entire waiting room 100% of the time and watch to see if anyone is not doing well. Changes to that space will make our patients and caregivers safer and the environment more secure.”
What are you looking forward to in the new ED?
“I’ve worked here 12 years, and we’ve tried a lot of different things to be more efficient, but we’re limited by the available space. Knowing that we’ll have a new and efficient space is transformational.
We’re seeing around 250 patients a day and admitting anywhere from 30 to 50 per day. Needs have grown in all areas. We have a great department, and we do great things – but elevating the space will elevate patient care.”
To donate to the ED campaign or to learn more
This project will be funded almost entirely by donors within our community, many of whom are grateful Providence St. Vincent patients. They give because of our dedicated providers, excellent and compassionate care teams, and our on-call specialist partners. Thank you for all you do.
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