Many lives have been saved and families forever changed thanks in part to the generous support of our donors.
“A dedicated and compassionate caregiver at St. Joseph Hospital for decades, Melvin Schwartz and his wife demonstrated their friendship and support for the Hospital by establishing a legacy through a generous charitable planned gift.”
Minutes Matter More than Ever
As one of the busiest Emergency Services Departments in Los Angeles County, Providence Saint Joseph has outgrown our current emergency care facility, which was built in 1980. Booming population growth in the San Fernando Valley, an increasing number of seniors with complex health issues and escalating numbers of low-income residents without primary care physicians have all contributed to a rapid rise in our emergency patient population.
Last year, we treated a record-breaking 72,000 emergency patients. Our Emergency Department now serves an average of 240 patients per day and our clinicians project that by 2024, we will be treating more than 93,000 emergency patients per year — a nearly 25% increase. This includes behavioral health patients who require more sophisticated care to treat both physical and mental health challenges, a trend linked to an overall increase in homelessness in our community.
In fact, between 2015 and 2018, the San Fernando Valley experienced a 45% increase in homelessness, the largest increase recorded in Los Angeles County. According to LA Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), 26% of LA County’s homeless population (13,719 individuals) reported a serious mental illness, 15% reported substance abuse (7,915 individuals), and about 10% reported both (5,277 individuals).
But nothing points to the tremendous need for a new Emergency Department more than the current COVID-19 pandemic. At the pandemic’s outset, in the face of a 40% surge in COVID-19 patients, our emergency clinical leaders rapidly created new pathways to expand our emergency health services while still dealing with record patient volumes.
Providence Saint Joseph set strict new policies on personal protective equipment (including masks, gowns and face shields) and secured an unprecedented supply of this gear. All patients arriving at the medical center are now screened for COVID-19 symptoms and the Emergency Department has established a separated triage area and isolation protocols for COVID-19 patients.
Our clinicians have not hesitated to meet this crisis head-on. Emergency Department physician Dr. Angelique Campen spoke for all our caregivers at the outset of the pandemic when she said, “We suit up, glove up, and go to work for the sick and vulnerable. It’s what we signed up for.”
To meet our surging demand for sophisticated, high-quality emergency care, we are preparing for the future with an innovative plan for a vastly expanded Emergency Department. We will not only be adding new equipment and providers to treat more patients, but also transforming the very structure of our emergency services to create a more efficient, impactful and patient-centered experience for all who seek our care.
One of the key pieces in realizing these goals will be the construction of a new, 8,500 square foot Urgent Care facility adjacent to our new Emergency Department. This facility will fill a crucial gap in services between emergency care and the type of urgent treatments previously provided by primary care physicians (who are sadly not accessible to many of our low-income and vulnerable patients). Our Urgent Care team will provide swift treatments to walk-in patients who require less acute care that still needs to happen immediately, including treatment of lacerations, broken bones, ear infections and more.
As for the new Emergency Department, our caregivers have collaborated with leading design experts to craft an efficient environment with a flexible layout that allows clinicians to move patients in different directions and use rooms for multiple purposes, enabling a smooth and efficient workflow even at the busiest of times.
Among the innovative features of our new Emergency Department are:
- Swifter treatments: new patient admission procedures and specialized units to diagnose and treat patients quickly, including a Fast-Track Unit whose caregivers will quickly provide care for patients with urgent but simple-to-treat conditions.
- More space for critical treatment: almost three times the current space, from 13,800 square feet to 34,500 square feet.
- More beds for our signature compassionate care: from 24 beds and 8 hallway beds to 44 Emergency Department beds and 12 urgent care beds.
- Increased ability to treat more people: expanding from nearly 72,000 visits per year to more than 93,000 visits annually in the emergency room and urgent care facilities.
- Improved triage: separate and specialized waiting and treatment areas for patients who are ill, injured, pediatric, geriatric or psychiatric.
- Sophisticated, on-site imaging and labs: faster diagnostics and vastly reduced wait times to expedite care including x-ray, ultrasound and CT scans.
- Dedicated treatment rooms: safe and comfortable isolation rooms for cancer patients and others who require a rigorously germ-free environment.
- Innovative behavioral health services: licensed clinicians and two Behavioral Health Units comprising a total of eight rooms will accommodate the needs of patients experiencing behavioral health challenges, and provide them with comprehensive care.
We are also implementing knowledge gained through the COVID-19 pandemic into our design, with more isolation and negative pressure rooms as well as changes to the waiting room intended to create safer distancing. “We will be different — and better — after this experience,” summarizes Debbie Buffham, our nursing executive director, who has played a key role in these design changes.
All of these features will occur within a vibrant new medical campus that embeds convenient amenities and cutting-edge technologies within a harmonious environment. Our vision for this campus takes advantage of colorful green spaces and contemplative gardens, open interiors and glass surfaces that bring in more natural light.
Together, we can provide care that transforms lives, now and for years to come.