The ED at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center doubles in space with expansion.
Photo by Ola Wilk of Wilk Marketing Communications and courtesy of Stalco Construction

As the busiest emergency department (ED) in the state of New York and one of the busiest in the United States, the Level I trauma center at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in New York City, already was stretched to the limit.

On top of that, the ED serves a growing community — many of whom are uninsured or rely on the ED for immediate care, emergency or not — causing the number of patient visits to increase from 159,528 in 2010 to 177,800 in 2013.

There was only one solution: Expand. To the benefit of patients and staff, that's exactly what happened. A $24 million expansion and renovation of the ED was completed last month, resulting in more than twice the total space — from 26,224 square feet to 57,905 square feet — and doubling the number of treatment bays from 53 to 106. Additional staff were hired, too.

The new ED is not only bigger, but also better. The new design increases staff efficiency and patient throughput and quality of care, says Fernando Jara, M.D., chairman of the department of emergency medicine.

"An expanded space provides for greater patient privacy and confidentiality, and it allows us to facilitate the patient through the ED," Jara says. "By increasing staff and space, we can identify and reduce any bottlenecks. Earlier care allows us to provide better care for better outcomes."

The expansion and renovation created a dedicated children's emergency unit, an adult waiting room, a new psychiatric and mental health emergency unit, a trauma center and more. Jara says the expansion also enables the ED to facilitate a sudden increase in the number of patients due to an event with mass casualties.

Physicians track patient treatment and movement from the moment they enter the ED through the use of PCs and electronic "white board" monitors scattered throughout the ED, he says. It also helps to measure wait times for triage and physician care.

Jara says a fast-track area within the ED allows staff to quickly treat minor injuries and illnesses. Patients are referred to physicians at one of Lincoln's clinics, if necessary, as part of an educational process that stresses ongoing health maintenance.

"By educating these patients and by demonstrating that we can take care of most of their needs and prevent most of these visits to the ED, the overall health of the individual, the family and the community will be enhanced," Jara says.

The project team for the renovation and expansion included general contractor Stalco Construction and architect Perkins Eastman.