Bigger Hospital, Better Care

Kate Heilpern

Kay Hinton

Ranked No. 2 nationally last year for quality and safety by the University HealthSystem Consortium, Emory University Hospital (EUH) cares for some of the sickest patients in the Southeast. While the average emergency department (ED) admits 12 percent of its patients, Emory’s sends about 38 percent to its 550 patient beds.

Thanks in part to Campaign Emory funding, two much-needed renovation and expansion projects will greatly enhance the hospital’s capacity for patient care.

EUH opened its emergency department in 1998. “Like a hermit crab, we found a shell and backed into it,” says Chief of Service Matthew Keadey. Now a critical transformation is under way with the support of a $50,000 gift from the Ida Alice Ryan Charitable Trust.

As visits to the ED nearly tripled from 2006 to 2012, wait times increased and work-arounds, such as conducting physical exams in beds in the hallway, became increasingly common. The renovation gives the ED not only the space it needs—it will grow from 9,600 square feet to 19,000—but also the ability to optimize patient care and minimize delay.

“Nobody ever wants to visit the ED or plans to visit the ED,” says Kate Heilpern, Ada Lee and Pete Correll Professor and Chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine. “Our goal is to create an experience that is as patient- and family-centered as we can make it.”

Preparation also is taking place for the hospital’s new nine-story, 210-bed tower, with the first phase of construction—excavation.

“The expansion of the Emory University Hospital patient care tower will ensure that our patients have timely and critical access to the very best care, while continuing to improve safety, quality, and satisfaction,” says John T. Fox, Emory Healthcare president and CEO. The Robert W. Woodruff Foundation is supporting the project with a $210 million grant.

The excavation will be more than fifty feet deep and require twenty thousand truckloads of dirt to be hauled away. In addition to anchoring the patient care tower, it will allow for an underground garage with several hundred spaces. Construction of the tower or “J wing,” which will feature new operating and ICU rooms, is expected to begin in June 2013.

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