Courtesy of Queen's Medical Center
A sketch of the new Queen's Medical Center ER, which
will be twice as big as the present one.
ER upgrade on
tap at Queens
The latest technologyBy Helen Altonn
and twice the space are planned,
and traffic problems
will be addressed
A "warmer and friendlier" emergency treatment facility will emerge at Queen's Medical Center, with construction set to start this summer.
"It's traumatic enough to have to go to emergency," said Stephen Nakano, Queen's facilities and development manager. "It doesn't have to look so institutional."
He cited two goals for the revamp:
To expand ER capabilities to see more patients and provide more services.
To consolidate outpatient services on the ewa side of Queen's campus and move traffic to there from the grounds' center, where the current ER is located.
The biggest ER changes will be state-of-the-art technology and a larger capacity, about twice the current size, said Cindy Kamikawa, manager for critical care in emergency services.
The new facility will be more than 20,000 square feet, growing to handle 50,000 visits a year, she said.
Nakano said the present 38-year-old ER was designed to accommodate 17,000 visits annually but now averages 27,000.
The project is part of a strategic plan to give the whole medical center a face lift -- it will be 140 years old next year -- and make it more user-friendly, he said.
It will have an attractive entrance and a "warmer, friendlier atmosphere," Nakano said.
The new ER, expected to be completed in May, will be on the first level of the Pauahi Building, with an ambulance bay at the side.
Nakano said the $14 million project will include equipping the ER with high-tech communications, tracking, admitting, telemedicine and information systems. It also entails upgrading some administrative and patient-related areas.
Two floors of the Pauahi Building are being vacated, Nakano said. The Queen Emma Clinic is moving to Queen Emma Tower -- the hospital's last major construction project 14 years ago -- and same-day surgery is being relocated throughout the hospital.
Queen's is now picking the low bidder from among nine contractors and obtaining permits to proceed, Nakano said.
The new facility also is designed to help the staff use time more efficiently, he said. "We have doctors and nurses who spend a lot of time playing traffic cop in the current ER."
There are now two main sections: one for walk-in patients and one for trauma patients, those severely injured and sick who arrive by ambulance and medevac. A "convenience care" center was added last November to treat minor injuries quicker, Kamikawa said.
She said the new ER will have separate areas for trauma cases, psychiatric patients, people with minor injuries and those walking in or arriving by ambulance with urgent medical needs.
Psychiatric emergency patients will have a separate entrance. "Now everyone walks through one door," Nakano noted.
Kamikawa said the new facility will have services and equipment -- now lacking in the ER -- to provide higher-quality care and to avoid moving patients to other departments.
There will also be more privacy, she said. The present ER has 19 beds, with three in private rooms; the new one will have 31 beds, with 25 in private rooms.
Other additions: Three nurses stations, an emergency services laboratory, isolation rooms for people with contagious diseases, a keiki waiting room with an aquarium, and family counseling and teaching areas.
Nakano said corridors and waiting rooms will be monitored with closed-circuit television for security -- "a rising problem in ERs nationally" -- in addition to a metal detector at the entrance. Security substations will monitor the ER and parking lot, he said.
Nakano said a 600-car parking structure will be built on the lot between Miller and Punchbowl streets, and traffic will be rerouted.
A kiosk at the Queen's entrance off Punchbowl will be removed so cars can drive across the grounds to the new ER to drop off people and enter a tunnel to the parking garage, he said.
"Instead of queuing cars on Punchbowl, we will queue them on our own property."
The Learning ChannelStar-Bulletin
features Queen's ER
The Queen's Medical Center's Emergency Services will be featured on The Learning Channel (Oceanic Cable 36) at 8 and 11 p.m. Oct. 6.
The program, "Trauma: Life in the ER," will be repeated at 6 p.m. Oct. 10. A second show will air later.
Queen's was chosen as part of the series about emergency rooms. Hawaii's scenery and unique multiethnic population and culture were featured in the programs, which focus on the caregivers and dedication to patients.
A film crew spent five weeks early this year in Queen's ER. "Due to the nature of the subject," Queen's said, "small digital cameras were used. Only one or two crew members were allowed to shoot at one time."