Ready to Handle Any Emergency Big or Small

New Emergency Department Built to Accommodate over 100,000 Annual Visits

Emergency DepartmentThey all come to the emergency room: infants with high fevers, teens with broken bones, seniors with flu symptoms and accident victims of all ages.Jersey Shore University Medical Center’s emergency department this past year was the first stop for health care for nearly 65,000 people, and officials only see the caseload growing.

Jersey Shore’s new emergency pavilion, located on the first floor of the brand-new Northwest Pavilion, will embrace a state-of-the-art emergency department and trauma center that can accommodate up to 100,000 annual visits.There will be a separate lobby and treatment area for children, and the medical staff will have CAT-scan and X-ray imaging available to them right there in the emergency room.

“We’re very excited about the new facility.We think this expansion is a great opportunity for the community, to better meet their needs with quality service,” said Robert L. Sweeney, D.O., emergency department director at Jersey Shore.

Visitors to the new emergency room will notice one thing right away: “Patients will be amazed by how incredibly beautiful it is,” said Trish Wesch, nurse manager of the emergency department.“They will be greeted by muted colors and a soothing atmosphere.”Many of the emergency room beds will be private rooms with doors, to give patients increased privacy.

“This new emergency room will have a total of 60 beds, covering over an acre of land,” said Dr. Sweeney.

The emergency department will be divided into five zones: pediatric, adult, behavioral health, and trauma.The doctors will have the flexibility to shift rooms in the care center and pediatric emergency department to accommodate the need for either minor illnesses and injuries or pediatric visits as needed as they are located next to each other.

One of the biggest changes to the emergency room will be the addition of a pediatric lobby.Children will now be separate from the rest of the emergency room population.This area will even be divided by age: younger children will have one area, older children another, with the dividing line about 7-8 years old.

“For a long time children were treated in emergency rooms as mini-adults,” said Khoshnood Ahmad, M.D., director of pediatric emergency care.“Their needs are different, they have to be treated as children.This new space will help us meet those special needs.”

Some of the adult cases in the emergency room can be traumatic to children, and the separate lobby area will help avoid that problem.

A special pediatric emergency team will be on duty from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m., an expansion from the current, according to Gail Temple, R.N., pediatric emergency department nurse manager.

The major goal of the new emergency department will be to reduce wait times, according to both Dr. Sweeney and Dr. Ahmad.“We want to try to get patients right from the door to an available bed, with no wait time in between,” Dr. Sweeney said.

Helping in this goal is the addition of 108 private rooms, located above the new emergency room in the Northwest Pavilion.Dr. Sweeney said, “This will free up emergency room beds strictly for emergency room patients.The more free beds, the less time patients have to wait.”A CAT scan right in the emergency department will also decrease waiting times.

“Everything will be right at our fingertips – CAT scan, X-rays.This is only going to increase our department efficiency,” Wesch said.

In the new, larger emergency room, doctors, nurses and patient assistants will stay in communication with each other on tablet computers.Prescription and diagnostic tests register immediately in all departments on these handheld computers.X-rays are now all digital, and can be read from anywhere in the emergency room.

Team members will also benefit from the expansion.The new space features a larger “Zen room,” a quiet space for staff where they can go to regroup and recharge before continuing their duties, which can be stressful in the emergency department.

Jersey Shore’s emergency room was last expanded in the 1990s, going from a capacity of 30,000 patients annually to over 60,000.“At the time, the fear was that maybe we had made it too big, that we’d never see it at capacity,” said Dr. Sweeney.

“It’s very hard to predict medical trends and what will in the future pull people into the hospital, but between population growth, the aging, and the K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital, we have seen clientele steadily grow,” Dr. Sweeney said.