University of Illinois Hospital unveils emergency department renovation

The University of Illinois Hospital unveiled its newly renovated emergency department today at a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by faculty, staff and hospital administrators.

UI Hospital Emergency Room

The newly renovated emergency department reception area.

The $3.5 million renovation, which began in January 2017, will help care providers see patients sooner and give patients an overall better experience.

“I’m so pleased that our emergency department has had these updates,” said Dr. Robert Barish, vice chancellor for health affairs at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “This renovation not only improves the look and feel of the space, but it also provides the alterations necessary to better accommodate our patients’ needs, keep wait times low, and support our staff in doing their jobs more efficiently.”

Dr. Terry Vanden Hoek, chief medical officer at the University of Illinois Hospital & Clinics and head of emergency medicine in the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine, added: “We wanted to improve our workflow first and foremost, so that patients were seen more quickly, but we also installed new technology to help us work smarter.”

Volume at the emergency department has grown to more than 46,000 patients being seen each year, explained Vanden Hoek.

“Our goal is to have the majority of our patients see a physician or advanced practice provider within 30 minutes of arrival. Since many of the new features of our emergency department have come online, we have been able to meet that goal,” said Vanden Hoek.

Under the new renovation, patients will enter through a newly redesigned entrance and waiting room, where they will be greeted by a nurse trained to recognize symptoms of serious conditions that require immediate attention, including stroke or heart attack. If tests are needed as part of a patient’s evaluation, they will be started right away.

Incoming patients will have the option to receive text messages from staff regarding lab test results, information about the doctors and nurses providing care, and next steps during their visit.

A new centrally located nurses’ station will make it easier for nurses to discuss next steps in patient care with their colleagues. Nurses and other staff can also call for housekeeping, dining services and patient registration at the push of a button instead of making a phone call. A large flat-screen, known as the “operational dashboard,” will give the emergency department staff a real-time snapshot of how the department is running by providing information on average patient wait times and the availability of beds.

All pediatric beds have been transformed into private rooms with televisions featuring child-friendly programming. “This gives our pediatric patients more privacy and helps reduce some of the noise they are exposed to when the emergency room gets busy,” Vanden Hoek said.

The renovation also includes a new state-of-the-art isolation room designed to allow for the safe treatment of patients with highly infectious diseases such as severe acute respiratory syndrome or tuberculosis. It will also include an anteroom where care providers can safely put on and take off protective clothing.

“Overall, the emergency department now runs much more seamlessly, and from what we are hearing from patients, they like the changes we’ve made,” Vanden Hoek said.

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