By Brandon Summers
A $13 million renovation of the emergency department at Grand Island’s CHI Health St. Francis Medical Center is underway.
In May, emergency care services were transferred to another part of the building located off of West Faidley Avenue.
“We are in the process of renovating the current emergency department,” said Emergency Department Director Amelia Swanson. “Then we will be adding on additional space and additional treatment rooms. That work started recently, and the anticipation is that it will be done by spring 2023.”
With the renovations to the space, built in the late 1970s, CHI is also adding more work space and additional treatment rooms, said Vice President of Care Services Kiley Grzywa.
“We’ll still be within the footprint of the hospital. We’re not going outside of the outside walls, necessarily,” Grzywa said.
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Moving the emergency department from the north side of the building to the west for the renovation was “fairly seamless,” Swanson said.
“It gives us a little more space, equivalent to what the new ER will be like,” she said. “It gets us close to an entrance for our patients to come in, so it’s easy for them to navigate. It gives us enough room to walk around in. Actually, it has more space probably than what our current ED had.”
She added, “It’s been a nice change.”
More space was needed and that need was only increasing.
“As time has gone on and technology has changed, and health care in general has changed, our current space just didn’t meet those needs any longer,” Grzywa said. “We really needed to elevate the space we had in order to better care for our patients, improve efficiencies, hopefully help with treatment times, and just make it a more comfortable space for our patients to get care.”
More isolation rooms are being added to meet the demands of the pandemic.
“With the advent of COVID, it brought to light that we needed more isolation rooms,” said Swanson.
Additional security is also being added.
“There will be a security guard that will sit by the front entrance, and then all entrances into the ED will be badge controlled,” Swanson said.
CHI will also offer more specialized treatment spaces with the renovation.
“We’ll have special rooms in which we can provide safe care for patients who have suicidal ideations,” Swanson said. “There will also be a bigger trauma bay to take trauma patients. As we work in a manufacturing community, there’s a lot of exposure to chemicals, so we’ll also have two decontamination showers that will be open to the outside and easy for patients to come in. We can decontaminate them and not expose them to the whole ER.”
The plans were done with input from the department’s staff and physicians, Grzywa said.
“With our suicidal ideation patients, we currently have to do quite a bit of modification to our rooms in order to safely care for those patients,” she said. “This will make it a much simpler process and make it truly the safest possible space for those patients to receive care.”
Swanson called the improvements “very exciting.”
“I have been a part of this community for a long time and it is the next step the community needs from the emergency department to provide safe and current technological care and to accommodate the needs of the community,” she said.
Grzywa concurred, saying it will allow CHI to better care for its patients.
“Our patients are No. 1 here, and we want them to be able to come to a comfortable, inviting space, one that meets the needs of their growing families, our growing community, and has the space needed,” she said. “Technology has changed and we use a lot of larger equipment, state-of-the-art equipment, and we want to be sure that we have room to grow into the future.”
For more information on CHI St. Francis services in Grand Island, visit chihealth.com/st-francis.html.