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New facility designed for prompt, quality care and patient safety

When you have a medical emergency, time is of the essence. You call 911 or rush to the emergency department and hope you'll be treated quickly.

That need for speed is not only instinctive, it's essential: Research shows that the sooner emergency patients are treated, the better their outcomes.

In fact, according to Dino Rumoro, DO, chairperson of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Rush University Medical Center, treating emergency patients quickly is so important that the new emergency department (ED) was designed specifically for speed and efficiency to provide better patient care.

"Our goal is to make emergency visits as brief and efficient as possible," Rumoro says.

Quality care — quickly
The details of this innovative design came from people who knew best what was needed: the ED staff. Their ideas led to a system that ensures faster care and enhances patient safety by improving the way patients move through the department.
This system consists of three clinical "pods," each with single rooms. It also includes comfortable, spacious waiting rooms — but with an important catch.

"Our goal isn't to have people waiting in comfort," Rumoro says. "We don't want them waiting at all." To accomplish this goal, the system works in the following way:

  • In the waiting rooms, patients are immediately greeted by a front-end team, which includes a nurse and patient care technician who ask why the patient has come to the ED.
  • In most cases, the patient is escorted directly to a single room in pod A, a triage area, for thorough assessment. A nurse and a physician arrive quickly to do an examination. People with earaches or minor sprains, for example, are treated and released from pod A, then leave the ED via a separate hallway and exit that bypass the waiting room to help prevent the spread of germs.
  • Patients whose condition is more serious, such as a person who comes in with stomach pain that turns out to be kidney stones, are moved from pod A to pod B for more advanced care.
  • Patients in critical condition, such as those who arrive with heart attack symptoms, are routed directly from the waiting room to pod B and a critical care bed.
  • Pod C can be used for overflow from the other areas.

With not only speed, but also infection control as motivation, the design of the ED keeps patients — and their germs — moving through it in one direction: away from the waiting room and other patients and toward the care they need. It also gets patients that care in as short a time as possible. This is a crucial advantage, particularly for critically ill patients. For example, quick treatment with medication can make a big difference in the recovery of many stroke patients.

"Rush is among the first institutions to implement this efficient system," Rumoro says. "It really looks to the future of emergency care."

Heightened alert
The clinical pods have another important function. Each can be converted into an isolation unit in case of a disease outbreak. Air pressure can also be controlled to vent germs quickly to the outside. This efficient use of space promotes safety by protecting patients and staff from infectious diseases — for example, a flu epidemic.

The Rush ED is also designed to handle mass casualties during large-scale emergencies. The department's flexible infrastructure is able to expand into nearby hospital areas to take in greater numbers of patients. And the ambulance bay converts into a decontamination center, with features such as a water curtain, which acts as a decontamination shower.

Care, comfort and convenience
Additional features designed into the ED — many derived from staff suggestions — are intended to help Rush provide the highest quality emergency care. They include the following:

  • A separate waiting room designed specifically for pediatric patients and their families. By providing games and child-sized furniture, the new ED helps kids feel more comfortable.
  • Short-term parking that lets patients park close by in an emergency. If patients need to be admitted, Rush's valet service or security will move their vehicles to the nearby long-term parking garage.
  • Imaging equipment, such as computed tomography scanners and X-ray machines, that is located within the ED and ultrasound testing that can be performed in the patient's room. This proximity reduces the risks involved with transporting sick or injured patients to another department for imaging tests and speeds the overall care process.
  • A wireless system that connects patient call buttons in the ED — and in the rest of the new hospital — to communication devices worn by nurses, allowing them to respond more quickly.

Bigger and better
The Rush ED is one of the busiest in Chicago, and more space was needed to meet the needs of both patients and staff. The new ED is more than twice the size of the previous one, but its advantages extend beyond its square footage. The advanced design and public safety features make Rush a national leader in how emergency medicine is practiced, Rumoro says.

"We've always provided excellent emergency care," he says. "Now we have a great facility as well."

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