Riverside’s Parkview hospital triples size of emergency department to see patients faster

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(This article.was written by Ryan Hagen and published by the Press Enterprise on September 16, 2019)

Parkview Community Hospital Medical Center has tripled the size of its emergency department, which will soon allow one of the country’s most crowded emergency departments to handle more patients with shorter wait times.

Now that it’s added a new 18,650-square-foot, 28-bed, facility in addition to its existing rooms, which will still be used, Parkview is up to 41 emergency-area beds.

Hospital officials invite the public to an open house from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 21, and intend to accept patients within a few weeks, once the California Department of Public Health licenses it, they say.

“This is a cutting-edge department that can handle as many patients as we’re going to get and more,” said Dr. Chad Clark, chairman of Parkview’s Department of Emergency Medicine. “That means we can serve patients better.” Until now, Parkview had 13 beds in the emergency department. Patients were regularly treated in hallways, given sensitive medical information in a crowded room, and huddled in a packed waiting room as ambulances delivered critical patients through the same door used by the public.

“It scares them, and it’s a huge constriction,” Clark said.

For years, Parkview’s emergency department has faced increasing patient loads without any more space for them. In a department designed to treat 60 people per day, they’ll often get many more and once treated 179 patients in one day during the height of flu season.

In fact, Parkview has the most emergency department patients per square foot of any hospital its size and the sixth-most patients per square foot of any of the roughly 2,000 hospitals that submit data to the Emergency Department Benchmarking Alliance, said Dr. James Augustine, the vice president of that nonprofit organization. Among the 427 reporting hospitals of Parkview’s size — between 40,000 square feet and 60,000 square feet — the number of patients who visit the emergency room every year, divided by the square footage of the department, is 3.0, Augustine said. The organization’s data shows Parkview has almost triple that — 8.6 patient visits per square foot.

“That’s very tight, certainly, one of the tightest emergency departments in the country,” Augustine said. “Too congested and you have problems with things like people coughing on each other, and overhearing every conversation. I congratulate them on being able to address that.”

Parkview’s construction began at close to the same time as expansions at Riverside Community Hospital, which completed $7.5 million in emergency department improvements, including 14 additional beds, in April. Parkview’s $30 million expansion, which includes specialized equipment and other advances, began in 2017.

AHMC Healthcare took over the hospital in July, more than a decade after Parkview exited bankruptcy.

Staffing has already increased in anticipation of the new emergency department, and employees are getting headsets now that every emergency department employee won’t be within hearing distance of the others, said Guillean Estrada, the hospital’s director of Emergency Services.

“It’s going to be a lot of changes, but we’ve been ready for them, and all of them are going to mean better patient care,” Estrada said.