St. Francis Medical Center’s new emergency department opened its doors to patients on Wednesday, Feb. 13. It’s the culmination of a $102 million expansion project to serve the growing population of northeast Colorado Springs.
The new ED will replace the old department and has 52 beds, more than double the number in the original unit. Of the new beds, four are reserved for intake evaluations and 32 are acute-care exam rooms. The remaining rooms include six for observation, six for SuperTrack patients with lower-acuity needs and four behavioral health rooms. Separate units are designated for children.
Patients who need an extended stay but don’t need to be hospitalized can rest for 18-24 hours in an observation area with six rooms and full monitoring capabilities.
According to a release from St. Francis, the new ED design and operational model will reduce the length of time patients stay in the ED, as well as total bed occupancy, freeing more beds to take care of the sickest patients more efficiently. It also aims to improve overall flow and patient experience, expediting and improving care for all patients.
“The new unit was designed from the ground up to minimize patient wait times,” said Michele Hobbs, director of emergency services for Penrose-St. Francis Health Services.
Patient volumes at the St. Francis Medical Center’s ED have nearly doubled since 2009, a year after the hospital opened. Since then, the department has had more than 52,000 visits each year, including more than 12,000 children, said Andrea Sinclair, Penrose-St. Francis Health Services Communications Manager.
The original department was designed to accommodate about 3,000 patients per month but has been seeing more than 4,000, resulting in long wait times for patients.
The new department has the capacity to accommodate about 80,000 patients annually, Sinclair said.
The emergency department is the final phase of a 168,000-square-foot expansion that began in May 2017. A new Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit opened in August 2018, and four additional operating rooms went online in October.
St. Francis Medical Center currently is the only Level III Trauma Center in northern Colorado Springs and serves as the base for Flight for Life Air Ambulance. According to the American Trauma Society, that means it has the ability to provide prompt assessment, resuscitation, surgery, intensive care and stabilization of injured patients and emergency operations. Trauma centers are ranked by the American College of Surgeons from Level I to V, with I being the highest level.