Strong Opens Region's Largest, Most Efficient Emergency Department

New Facility is Three Times Larger Than Hospital's Current ED

March 06, 2001

After nearly two years of construction, Strong Memorial Hospital will today unveil the region's largest and most modern emergency facility. The new, 55,000-square-foot Frank and Caroline Gannett Emergency Center is more than three times larger than Strong's current emergency department. Plus, it was designed to improve efficiency in a facility that handles more than 75,000 visits per year and has been designated by the New York State Department of Health as a Level One Regional Trauma Center.

"This new ED represents a vast improvement on our old facility in virtually every way," said Kathleen Parrinello, chief operating officer for Strong Memorial Hospital. "It has enough space to accommodate the number of patients who rely on us for care, it is built with the dignity and comfort of our patients in mind, and it is designed to aid us in providing rapid care."

Modeled after the emergency department at the University of Cincinnati, a medical center that is nationally respected for its emergency and trauma services, the Gannett Emergency Center features distinct treatment areas for adults and children, as well as for those who require urgent care for minor injuries. The adult treatment area was constructed with 25 private patient cubicles surrounding a raised nursing station so that patients are readily visible to staff.

Unlike other emergency facilities in the region, it also includes a dedicated Children's Emergency Department with a private waiting room. "For years, pediatric emergency medicine physicians have known that children have very different physical and emotional needs with regard to emergency care," said Elizabeth McAnarney, M.D., chair of Pediatrics at the Children's Hospital at Strong. In the last few years, the most progressive medical centers around the nation - including Strong - have begun creating dedicated children's emergency rooms. We understand that children are not simply small adults, but unique individuals with special care needs."

The Children's Emergency Center is the beneficiary of a $1 million gift from the Ronald McDonald House Charities, the largest gift in the organization's history. It is decorated with cheerful, hand-painted murals created by local artist Zion Yerman and paid for with a gift from Christa Construction.

In addition, the new ED includes a nine-bed Clinical Decision Unit where patients with conditions such as chest pain can be evaluated, and an enlarged Family Express area for those with minor injuries. "These expanded features will allow us to avoid unnecessary hospital admissions, and keep treat-and-release patients outside of the flow of the main emergency department," Parrinello said. "That represents a savings in both time and cost."

Perhaps the greatest showpiece of Strong's new ED is the Kessler Regional Trauma Unit, a 3,200-square-foot space for patients with life-threatening illnesses and injuries. The unit can comfortably accommodate seven patients, and up to 14 patients in a mass casualty incident. Overhead imaging equipment eliminates the need for patients to be moved for X-rays, while ceiling mounted heating units provide warmth. The unit has been made possible through a $1 million donation from Laurence and Dennis Kessler, owners of 22 local Burger King restaurants. Patients with critical injuries can be rapidly transported from the roof-top helipad mounted atop Strong Memorial's eighth floor.

"This trauma facility is truly second to none," said Sandra Schneider, M.D., chair of Emergency Medicine. "It will allow us to keep pace with the growing number of trauma visits we see each year." New drugs and technology and improved transport systems are allowing trauma teams to save even the most critically ill and injured patients, she added.

The two-story ED contains a full psychiatric emergency department on the second floor. This area has 10 private rooms, including four 72-hour observation rooms and a separate waiting room for families.

"It's apparent that careful thought and planning went into the creation of this ED," Parrinello said. "It's a wonderful tribute to the many physicians, nurses, architects, engineers and others who've been part of the team."

The new Frank and Caroline Gannett Emergency Center is located on the north side of the Medical Center campus, adjacent to the main hospital entrance and across from the ramp garage.

The Hospital plans to begin accepting patients into the new ED at 7:00 a.m. on Wednesday, March 14. At that time, the doors to the current ED will close and for the next several hours Strong will operate both facilities until patients in the old ED are either admitted or released.

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Teri D'Agostino
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