Emergency Room undergoes safety upgrade

8/14/2014 12:00 AM

​You've probably noticed the new inpatient Behavioral Health Services unit under construction at the corner of Alder Street and East 13th Avenue at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center, University District.
It’s part of a $13.6 million upgrade, the first in a series planned at the UD campus. While the lion’s share of that was earmarked for the inpatient unit in the Support Services Building, nearly $400,000 went toward another critical project across campus in the Emergency Department.
Those dollars were used to remodel five patient rooms into hold/observation rooms for mental health patients and other patients with the potential to harm themselves, others or hospital property. That brings the total number of so-called “secure” rooms from four to nine.
The money also paid to modify an existing nursing station and create a second station to provide greater security and adequate line-of-sight in the unit.  Protected by safety glass and a locked door, the new station is outfitted with a state-of-the-art audio-visual system.
Also part of the package: the ED’s first-ever patient shower. “That was a huge need for us–it’s a great addition,” said Jeanne Seelye, ED Interim Nurse Manager.
In recent years the ED has seen a rise in the number of patients in acute mental health crises, Jeanne noted. They can pose a risk to themselves, as well as staff and fellow patients. The new rooms are sparingly furnished, with specially designed beds and fixtures whose parts can’t be removed, damaged or easily modified.
In addition to serving as Eugene’s only full-service emergency room, the ED at University District also is the primary intake for inpatient Behavioral Health patients admitted to the Johnson Unit.
The new rooms also provide a far greater level of privacy for the patient. Previously, patients in crisis would sometimes have to share personal information and receive treatment in standard rooms, within earshot of multiple caregivers and separated only by a curtain from the patient next door.
Fortunately, the curtain days are coming to a close: an upcoming phase of the campus improvements calls for walling off all the ED rooms, Jeanne said.
All of this is part of the continuing transformation of the UD campus, underscoring its importance as a vital health care resource for the Eugene area.