The Misericordia Community Hospital’s new emergency department will open at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday.
“It feels like Christmas Eve,” Covenant Health CEO Patrick Dumelie said at a news conference at west Edmonton facility Monday morning.
“We went from the most challenging infrastructure, with the most amazing staff, to probably the best infrastructure with the same amazing staff so we’re super excited for tomorrow.”
The hospital has been counting between 50,000 and 55,000 emergency visits each year, twice what the existing emergency department was built to handle.
The new department will be able to handle 60,000 visits.
“It’s really hard when people are literally stacked on top of each other and we’re providing medicine in the hallway and stretchers on stretchers down the hallways and those sorts of things,” Dumelie told reporters before a tour of the facility.
“Just the sheer volume and size of the space will allow us to not only give better and more dignified care, but will also help us ensure people get the care they require in appropriate fashion. So a lot more stretcher space and waiting space, a lot more treatment space.”
The old department was 1,700 square metres; the new department is 5,000 square metres. With the new facility, the hospital gains two ambulance bays, six acute care spaces, 38 treatment spaces, two radiology rooms, four private isolation rooms and one mental health bed.
However, no more staff will work there than in the old facility, so the new facility is not expected to relieve pressure on Alberta’s hospital system in that way, Covenant’s CEO said.
But according to Dumelie, the department’s improved design using “streams” – pathways that sort patients according to the type of care they need – will increase efficiency and timeliness of care delivery. The increased footprint also means that stretcher backlogs won’t affect the department’s ability to take in more patients.
“It’s not a silver bullet, I’ll say that. The demand for services right now – across the whole province and certainly in Edmonton Zone – is very, very high,” Dumelie said.
He added that there is space to grow into if in the future there were resources to hire more staff.
Construction on the $85-million project began in 2020.
Covenant Foundation fundraised $2.3 million for enhancements to the department, like a children’s play space and landscaped courtyards.
Dumelie said Covenant is working with Alberta Health Services on a plan to use the old emergency space in times of surge capacity.
With files from CTV News Edmonto’s Adel Ahmed
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