A look inside the emergency department at North Ottawa Community Hospital in Grand Haven. Courtesy NOCHS
A health care system in the region has opened a new emergency department.
North Ottawa Community Health System, or NOCHS, in Grand Haven said today it has completed a four-year long, $9.67 million, two-story renovation project that reconfigured North Ottawa Community Hospital’s emergency department and added several features.
The new ER features a 26,214-square-foot expansion and a 9,000-square-foot renovation.
Shelleye Yaklin, president and CEO of NOCHS, said the project was needed for NOCHS to restructure the way it approaches ER care.
“The expansion allowed us to double our overall capacity, double our trauma capacity and provide private rooms throughout with far greater amenities than we had,” she said.
Yaklin added a big impetus of the project was that a large portion of the community was coming to the ER “in the absence of knowing what else to do.” The ER was crowded, and the population was in need of more education about how to approach ER visits.
“The facility will allow us to retrain that population of patients and reduce the amount of times they come to the ER,” she said. “We were seeing so many repeat visits a year. Now that we’re retraining that population, we hope to reduce those visits.”
Jeff Beswick, NOCHS board member and campaign co-chair of the ER project, said the investment will ensure the community’s overall health and well-being.
“For small communities like ours, it’s increasingly rare to have full hospital services, like ours, available,” Beswick said. “Many communities are forced to travel great distances for the kinds of services we provide. And the ER is probably the most important of all them. It’s almost unimaginable to think about living in a community where we didn’t have access to emergency care and full hospital services directly connected to it, to back it up.”
The new ER features collaboration space that blends medical expertise with mental health and social service agencies — such as Love in Action, TCM Counseling and Ottawa County Community Mental Health Services — to manage patients with chronic conditions and mental illness.
It also includes additional “universal care” patient rooms, trauma rooms, mental health “safe rooms,” two OB-GYN rooms located in a more private area of the ER and a CDC-standard isolation and decontamination unit.
Other elements include a new entrance, increased natural light, a rooftop garden and an outdoor healing garden.
In addition to changing the space, Yaklin said the ER department has reconfigured its staff.
“We hired some additional RNs and our medical social workers, and there are some new physicians,” she said. “And now there’ll be a core group of physicians that will rotate through, whereas before we could have had 15 different people working in the department.
“We’re excited, because it’s much easier when you’re working with a core group of staff. To ensure that our medical procedures are being followed, it goes much more smoothly when you’re dealing with fewer providers.”