Monday, April 21, 2014 - ED, 3 North Expansion Update


This story appear in the Spring 2014 issue of Heart to Heart, which can found online by clicking here

COVINGTON - St. Tammany Parish Hospital remains focused on patient care as expansion of its Emergency Department and construction of new third-floor patient rooms moves into full swing.

“We remain focused on patient needs,” said Chief Operating Officer Sharon Toups, who noted that Emergency Department capacity will be maintained or expanded over the two-and-a-half-year construction period. “We’ve planned the expansion so there will be no disruption in patient care, including in the Emergency Department.”

A population change on the Northshore, including continued growth in the number of families with young children, was the main reason for the latest hospital expansion. STPH will add 8,600 square feet of space for pediatric and adult emergency and trauma care in its Emergency Department to meet that growing community demand. A new third-floor patient wing, also under construction, will include 21 new private patient rooms.

The phase of the project that began in December and will continue through this spring involves renovation of existing space. Completion of that round of work — pegged for May — will coincide with the opening of a new ambulance entrance and a temporary pedestrian entrance on the east side of the hospital, said Support Services Project Manager Randy Willett.

A later phase of the Emergency Department expansion will include a new, permanent pedestrian entrance. That work is expected to start in 2015, Willett said.

A large crane that will be on the hospital grounds through May is related to the 3 North patient-room addition, which is slated for completion in late 2015. 

The current phase of the project signals change is coming to the STPH campus; however, that change doesn’t mean disruptions to patients or area commuters. The hospital carefully planned the multiphase project and is constantly evaluating patient-care procedures, which allowed for significant gains in quality-of-care measures in 2013 as it prepared to begin the $21 million expansion.

The hospital moved into the top 10 percent of U.S. hospitals in patient satisfaction in 2013, according to national benchmarks on quality of care. It made that improvement even as its Emergency Department caseload grew to 39,268 in 2013 from 37,984 in 2012, according to hospital figures.

Despite an increase in the number of patients, the length of stay in the Emergency Department was down from 2.8 hours in 2012 to 2.1 hours last year, said Chief Nursing Officer Kerry Milton.

Patients with fractures or other painful conditions also are receiving faster relief, having to wait an average of 26 minutes in 2013 compared with 64 minutes a year earlier, Milton said.

The most notable change came in the number of patients leaving without being seen, which was less than 2 percent in 2013. The ED saw an 87 percent drop in the number of patients leaving without being seen, from 806 in 2012 to 105, or 0.27 percent in 2013.

It’s an important measure of patient satisfaction, as patients who leave without being often do so out of frustration over wait times.

It’s the result of a multitude of changes over the past two years to boost efficiency, improve access to emergency medical and simply performing exams more quickly. Much hinges on a revamped and relocated triage area. Creating the new triage – despite another new one coming in the next two years as a result of the expansion – was key to making sure efficient access to care not only remained uninterrupted but continued to improve.

Triage was moved closer to the front door so the triage nurse could be in visual and audible contact with the waiting area and front door. It also helped decrease door-to-provider time, improve pain management efficiency, facilitate and promote registration, and promote direct bedding when beds are available.

“We are constantly looking at our process for improvement,” Milton said.


A full-service acute care facility committed to providing world-class healthcare and the latest technology, St. Tammany Parish Hospital delivers today’s life-improving procedures with the utmost care to area residents with emphasis on wellness, preventive care and disease management close to home. STPH is a self-supporting not-for-profit community hospital; it receives no tax funding.