Stanford Medicine Newsletter Updates For the Local Community


Expanded Emergency Department

New ED will offer privacy, access to nature


No one wants to go to the emergency department, but when patients end up at Stanford Hospital’s new ED, they’ll find a comforting atmosphere, with plenty of space, access to nature, and room for supportive family and friends.

The new Laura and Marc Andreessen Emergency Department will be “private, spacious and quieter,” said Sam Shen, MD, clinical associate professor of emergency medicine. “It’ll be a more pleasant environment for patients and caregivers, which means better care and more relaxed patients.”

With emergency department visits at Stanford Medicine growing by 5 to 8 percent a year, the team designing the new ED knew it’d have to be much larger. But the nurses, physicians, hospital administrators and architects on the design team also took the opportunity to create an efficient layout, along with an emotionally supportive environment.

Streamlined care

The new layout will have separate zones for patients with different need levels, and these zones are organized according to the way patients move through the department.

“We have an intentional, thoughtful layout with regard to activity and flow,” said Alison Kerr, RN, MSN, vice president of neuroscience, psychiatry and the emergency department. She likened the new department’s design to that of a well-organized marathon, in which the runners are grouped together according to their speed.

As soon as patients walk in the front door, adjacent to the new hospital’s main entrance on Pasteur Drive, a nurse will evaluate them, then send them to the appropriate space. Patients with less serious problems will remain close to the entrance, in the fast-track area or the vertical zone, where they can sit in chairs.

Fast-track patients may require a splint for a broken finger or antibiotics for an infection, for example. The goal is to have them out of the emergency department in 90 minutes or less — opening up space for other patients.

“There are people who are appropriate to be treated in a recliner,” Shen said. “We felt that it didn’t make sense to have a patient sit in a chair waiting in the lobby when they could be in a recliner receiving their care in the vertical area if they do not need a traditional ED bed.”

Any patient who comes in the front door with a more serious problem—a heart attack or a head injury, say — will be sent to a bed in the back of the department. Patients who arrive via ambulance will enter through the back entrance, off Welch Road, straight into the trauma zone. And patients who fly in on Stanford Life Flight will land on the roof, directly above the trauma center, and take a quick elevator ride down.

Kid zones

Pediatric patients will be treated in their own area, which will be decorated with interactive art in child-oriented themes. “The space is designed for children, with age-appropriate distractions to make the situation less scary,” Shen said. Pediatric trauma patients will receive care in a separate area inside the trauma center.

The new emergency department will also include a pharmacy so that patients can receive medication without having to leave the area. The hospital’s imaging labs, for X-ray and CT scans, will be located adjacent to the ED so that emergency patients can access them quickly.

The attention to patients’ emotional health starts in the waiting areas. The new ED will have separate rooms for children and adults, both of which will look out onto a garden. “It’s going to be a really beautiful space, with natural light and access to nature,” said Jennifer Romer, RN, BSN, senior project manager of medical planning.

Patients who require beds will have private rooms, with extra seats and entertainment systems. “They’re all spacious, private rooms, with accommodations for family members who come with the patients,” Romer said.

Nature fix

For staff, there will be a conference room, more locker space and bathrooms with showers. And the grove of trees outside the ED, the Peery Family Garden, will allow clinicians to take a break in nature. “In an emergency room, you can’t close the front door,” Kerr said. “This will be a space where our medical staff can get out and clear their heads.”

As the only level-1 trauma center between San Francisco and San Jose, the new ED is also designed to accommodate a surge of patients in case of a large-scale disaster.

The current emergency department was designed to treat 40,000 patients a year; Stanford Medicine is now seeing nearly 80,000. That number continues to grow as Stanford Medicine expands, and the population of the Bay Area grows and ages.

The new hospital, which will include 368 additional beds, will be a “green” building, using 35 percent less energy than the current hospital and a reclaimed water system. It will also feature more than four acres of garden space for patients and visitors. Construction is scheduled to be completed in 2018.

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