The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly changed the space requirements within our Emergency Department (ED). Even before COVID, our ED had to manage with not enough room. Opened in 2001/02, it was sized based on a projected volume of 45,000 annual visits. Over the past six years it has averaged over 60,000. Now, a plan is in place to create more space to help manage the potential second COVID wave and the seasonal influenza surge.
The goal is to provide additional space to achieve the new standards required due to COVID-19 – something which is paramount to the safety of both patients and staff. These standards require we design the space in a way that maintains physical distancing and create adequately sized, negative-pressure, resuscitation rooms.
In order to achieve these standards, we will be commencing a series of interrelated renovation projects. Renovations to the ED’s existing x-ray room are currently underway. These renovations will convert this room to a new negative-pressure trauma and resuscitation room. This will allow for safe resuscitation of patients who are suspect or positive for COVID-19. The x-ray equipment will be moved to the existing booking office in Diagnostic Imaging. That room was designed to accommodate X-ray equipment with lead-lined walls and a control room
The next step is the most visually significant for the Hospital. We will be placing a large, temporary structure in the parking spaces just outside the department. Measuring 36’x60’ (the size of three large mobile homes side by side), the structure will be the public’s entry point for our Emergency Department and will include registration, triage and the main waiting room. The structure is designed so patients will move through the processes in a way that maintains physical distancing throughout.
That prefab structure is expected to arrive the first week of November and will take about two weeks to connect with all the hospital’s infrastructure including water, hydro, IT etc.
Once that structure is up and running, the freed up space (the current waiting room, triage and registration areas) within the ED will be modified. Once renovations are completed, the See and Treat area will move to the current main waiting room, triage and registration area. This will allow the existing See and Treat bays to become part of the acute area of the ED. As such, it will help reduce the need to care for patients on stretchers in the hallway in the acute zone of the ED.
The current See and Treat waiting area will also be converted to a seated patient treatment area. Cleanable partition walls will create four patient bays for patients requiring intravenous therapies and/or blood transfusions while still allowing for appropriate infection prevention controls. We are aiming to have this project complete as soon as possible in preparation for the potential second wave of COVID-19 and flu season.
We also have a project plan working its way through the government’s approval process to expand our ED by building out from the hospital. In the meantime, this temporary structure along with the renovations within the department will help address the pressures being placed on us by the COVID pandemic.