Expanded Sibley Memorial ED opens September 14

On September 14, Sibley Memorial Hospital will open a new emergency department, designed with the help of the EMA team that has staffed the department since 2009.

The new ED space is nearly twice the size of the current one, which serves some 36,000 patients a year. The number of main treatment rooms has increased from 18 to 22 and the number of fast track rooms has doubled to six. Every room features a sliding glass door to improve privacy, an enhanced security system and a number of new technologies designed to improve patient care, says Jennifer Abele, MD, Medical Director and Chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine.

The ED move and expansion is part of a larger plan to replace Sibley’s existing 318-bed community hospital facility (5255 Loughboro Rd. NW, Washington), which has become crowded and difficult to maintain. Although the ED portion of the building opens in September, the full hospital is set to begin operations in the summer of 2016 and will enhance Sibley’s role as a regional leader in orthopedics, obstetrics and oncology. Abele says Sibley’s administrators have allowed the EMA team to play an integral role in the design on the new ED.

“I think I know where every outlet is, every light switch. I’ve approved every single sign. It’s been amazing that they have given us so much ability to have input on the project,” she says, adding that her providers have spent hours on activities like organizing supply carts and determining the ideal placement of equipment in patient rooms.

Among the new ED’s upgrades is a real-time location system that tracks the current position of equipment and staff based on locator chips integrated into badges. A new supply system features keypad-locked carts thoughtfully distributed throughout the ED to facilitate quick access to the most commonly needed resources. Rather than the traditional triage area, the new ED has a small intake area that Abele describes as a “pit stop,” designed to minimize the wait time before a patient sees a provider. The planners took into account disaster preparedness, constructing the only brick-and-mortar decontamination shower unit in the District of Columbia. The shower has the capacity to process 100 patients in an hour.

Abele, who has been with EMA since 2002, says the new changes offer exciting opportunities for growing the ED staff at Sibley and improving the patient experience.

“We want people to work smarter, not harder, and I think that we’ve been given a fabulous opportunity to try to do that,” she says. “For me the best part will be if somebody comes to work and talks about how much nicer, easier, more enjoyable work is with these alterations to the environment.”