Miami Valley expansion improves patient flow

Miami Valley Hospital has completed the last phase of a $12 million expansion, adding much-needed capacity to one of the busiest emergency departments in the region.

The project, which began more than a year ago and was completed in four phases, expanded the number of emergency department treatment rooms from 70 to 83, and the number of rooms with monitors to track patients vital signs from 31 to 73, hospital officials said Monday.

The hospital converted a former specialty clinic into additional emergency rooms, and freshened up the trauma center housed in the hospital’s emergency department with new paint and flooring, among other upgrades. Existing emergency rooms were also expanded to approximately 140-160 square feet from about 80-90 square feet to accommodate more visitors and family members.

The expansion has already helped accommodate increased patient flows, including a spike in the past week of more than 100 patients a day over normal traffic, said Liz Denlinger, director of nursing in the hospital’s emergency department.

“We’re seeing a lot of sick people,” said Denlinger, who could not pinpoint exactly why there had been a uptick in patient volume. Before the expansion, “if a patient came through into the triage area, and all the monitored beds were filled, and they needed a monitored bed, then they would most likely have to wait for a monitored bed. With this expansion…when folks arrive, they get the bed they need.”

Before the expansion, the emergency department was already seeing more than 90,000 patients a year, resulting in 75 percent of adult admissions to the hospital, officials said.

One of the biggest challenges facing the emergency department over the past year has been accommodating patients while construction was ongoing, said Andie Slivinski, a clinical nurse specialist at Miami Valley.

“We had to figure out how to still see 80,000 to 90,000 patients through a place where you’re tearing down almost every wall,” Slivinski said. “It was a huge work flow challenge, but we still manged to get people through here effectively.”

In addition to the new beds, the emergency department also created a separate area for patients with non-life-threatening conditions, freeing up beds for patients with more serious illness, said Amy Teague, a nurse manager.

“These are people who don’t have a complaint that requires a cardiac monitor or who would require admission,” Teague said. “These patients want to be seen and treated and released. Our goal is to get them seen so they can be on their way.”

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