In recent years, Methodist Hospital has seen an uptick in ER visits on its Southlake Campus in Merrillville. This year, even in the midst of an $8 million major expansion project, volume continues to grow, according to Emergency Department nurse manager Cindy Mirabella, RN, BSN.
“Our team of nurses and doctors always want to provide the best possible care experience,” she said. “It’s nice to have everything sparkling, shiny and new, but when it comes right down to it, giving our patients the best and quickest care possible is our number one priority. Throughout the entire construction planning process, there was a real commitment to maintaining quality care from the top down.”
Following a strategic plan designed to decrease wait times while increasing the quality and delivery of patient services, Methodist Hospitals embarked on the 1,800 square foot expansion and renovation project last February. In keeping with their plan to remain fully operational throughout construction, the Emergency Department recently announced the completion of phase one without any interruption to service.
“We do not close our doors for any reason at any time,” Emergency Services and Critical Care director Victor Garcia said. “We may be a work in progress, but our census for the year is up. We have not taken the so-called dip people predicted, and with the way we are moving forward I strongly doubt that we will. I’ve been here for three months now, so the construction was planned before my time. I’m just lucky enough to be a part of it. While it’s all very exciting, the people are really what made up my mind about this position. The leadership is terrific, and the people are all great. You know that’s something special after being in this business for 17 years.”
While construction moves on to phase two, which encompasses the waiting room, public restrooms and offices, the new Emergency Department already incorporates a long list of improvements.
Starting with complimentary valet parking and a new reception area to increase efficiency for arriving patients, the “fast track” area has twice as many rooms to accommodate those with minor ailments and injuries and there are now 23 advanced examining rooms compared with 13 patient areas separated by curtains before.
“The improvements in technology are tremendous,” Mirabella added. “There are state-of-the-art cardiac monitoring systems and nurse call systems which are absolutely vital to patient care. Plus, all of the records including your medication history will electronically interface with the hospital’s primary care physician network. That’s a real big plus and another way we are making it easier for our patients.”
Upon arriving at the Methodist Hospital Southlake Campus ER, patient acuity is assessed by an RN and care is provided based on the severity of illness, according to Mirabella.
“We know your time is valuable, so we don’t want you sitting and waiting any longer than necessary,” she said. “With the new layout we were able to change the work flow and decrease waiting time. When you put so much work into something and the outcomes are good, it’s exciting.”
“Post-Discharge phone calls using Patient Call Manager are another way we are making a difference for patients,” Garcia added. “It’s this type of commitment by our caregivers that sets Methodist apart.”
“As a nurse, I’m well aware of how often patients are readmitted,” Mirabella explained. “When I talk with patients after discharge, it's not unusual to find that they are confused about their medications or other instructions. Being able to clarify things for them makes these calls a meaningful experience, rather than feeling like I'm going down a checklist. Patient Call Manager allows me to complete the continuum of care for my patients, and for that I am grateful.”
Because there are a number of options when it comes to choosing a good hospital close to home in case of an emergency in northwest Indiana, proximity can often be the deciding factor.
“It’s estimated that 98% of the population now has a choice when it comes to choosing an emergency room, and we’re finding that outstanding service is a driving force now more than ever before,” Garcia said. “That means 2% of the patients we see on a daily basis are critical, facing a trauma or emergency that comes down to where they are going to save their life the quickest. Otherwise, when we learn that someone has passed up two hospitals on the way to Methodist, that’s how we know we have earned our place with them.”
Now, when patients arrive there’s an instant “wow” factor, even as construction continues, according to Mirabella.
“The improvements are really amazing,” she said. “But, they’re here for the care, and it’s not uncommon to have a group of nurses with over 100 years of combined experience working the same shift. The fact that we have so many highly-skilled nurses and clinicians is extremely comforting for our patients. They know they are in good hands.”
Part of an $18 million investment in facility enhancements for Methodist Hospitals, the Southlake Campus Emergency Department expansion and renovation will be complete by the end of the year.
“This far-reaching capital improvement project demonstrates Methodist Hospitals’ ongoing commitment to providing quality care in northwest Indiana, with a focus on the most complex cases across a range of specialties including stroke, brain tumor, cancer, trauma and high-risk pregnancy,” president and CEO Ian McFadden said.