NMC Commentary

Will NMC’s Emergency Department Be Renovated?

Yes it is time!  We are currently in the design phase of our plans to renovate the NMC Emergency Department and we are budgeting for this to be one of the next projects following our current major project underway that is creating private rooms for our inpatients and improving access to primary care, urgent care, and orthopaedics.  I appreciate a recent letter from a community member about status of the Emergency Department’s physical environment and that person’s warm words about the care and staff at NMC.  We agree that this busy crucial space is tired and in need of improvements.  Rest assured, we understand that the Emergency Department is an important community resource and represents ‘a front door’ to our organization.

This will not be an easy project.  Even with the expansion of primary care throughout our community and the strong utilization of Northwestern Urgent Care in the Cobblestone Building on our campus and on Route 7 in Georgia, NMC’s Emergency Department continues to see a high volume of patients around the clock, every day of the year.  True emergencies continue to happen and this devoted team cares for more than 25,000 patients a year.  At that volume in the existing space, even getting in between patients to restock and clean and polish can be a true challenge some days.  Given these challenges, our Environmental Services team and the Emergency Department staff must make strong efforts to keep this area clean with minimal disruption to patient care.  They appreciate feedback when something is not up to standards so that we can get to it, as it truly is an around-the-clock effort. Construction will be even more challenging than the in-depth cleanings.  As we design the renovations with input from the staff and community, we are bearing in mind how we will be able to take some areas of the department out of service to allow for work to be done without compromising access to care for emergent patients.  This will be a real challenge, but our team will be up for the task.

NMC’s Emergency Department is ready for a significant functional and visual redesign. Similar to the inpatient environment, shifting to private rooms for patient care (the ED currently features four treatment bays separated by curtains) provides significant benefit to patients in terms of privacy and personalized care.  This work will provide an even safer environment for our staff to care for patients who present with some of the more challenging conditions we see on a routine basis.  A redesign of flow within the busy Emergency Department to create more efficient and streamlined care as well as better access to proper space for consultations, counseling, specialized care, and support services.  Safety for staff and patients is key priority of this planned renovation.  This all represents our opportunity to invest in new flooring, as the current flooring is tired and near the end of its serviceability, as well as in other environmental aspects that will enhance the healing environment for our patients.

The exact timing of this important project has not yet been finalized.  As this project is being designed, leaders at NMC are actively working through the refinement of the overall plans for future work on NMC’s campus, balancing the need for continued improvement and advancements with the financial means of the organization and our community.  We are carrying an estimate as a placeholder for it in the capital budget we have submitted to the Green Mountain Care Board and will be working with our own community Board of Directors on the specifics of the project, its costs, and its timeline to create the best possible investment.

I am so proud of the care our Emergency Department provides.  I look forward to being able to improve their physical setting and appreciate the feedback on the need to maintain our existing facility in the meantime. As we continue to transform healthcare at the system level towards population health, maintaining the life-saving resource of the Emergency Department is a foundational support to the emphasis on ensuring everyone in our community has a strong relationship with a primary care provider to address medical conditions long before they become emergent. Thank you for the feedback on the cleanliness of our Emergency Department.  We take feedback very seriously to improve all aspects of our service and care.  When you need care we want to be the trusted local healthcare resource that you turn to…a community hospital that you are proud of.

— Jill Berry Bowen, NMC’s Chief Executive Officer