To ensure access to increasing demand for emergency care, Theda-Care is celebrating the groundbreaking for a new Emergency Department (ED) at ThedaCare Medical Center-Berlin. The nearly 9,000 sq. ft ED is expected to open in spring 2021. Total cost is estimated to be $8.5 million.
“ThedaCare continues to prepare and respond to the needs of the community, keeping our patients and families safe and healthy, now and always,” said Imran A. Andrabi, MD, President and CEO of ThedaCare. “Investing in a new emergency department will ensure the people of the Berlin area have access to needed services, demonstrating our commitment to providing care in our rural communities.”
The need for emergency services in rural markets is significant. A study in the Journal of American Medical Association demonstrates rural EDs have experienced more than a 50% increase in patient visits during last 10 years, despite a 5% decline in the overall US rural population.
“It’s critical that we continue to make exceptional care effortless for patients and families by understanding individual needs,” Mark Thompson, Chief Financial Officer/Chief Operating Officer. “We know those needs are different for people living in rural areas. Our teams work to understand a person’s unique medical background, lifestyle and personal goals, getting patients back to living their best life, sooner.”
According to the Wisconsin Health Association (WHA), the federal Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) has ranked Wisconsin’s Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) third best in the nation for health care quality reporting and improvement measures. Wisconsin’s CAHs came in third for 2020, behind just Virginia and South Carolina.
ThedaCare Medical Center-Berlin is an accredited Critical Access Hospital by The Joint Commission, earning a Gold Seal of Approval® by demonstrating continuous compliance with its performance standards. Rural is defined as a geographic area with low population size and density. It can be a town, a small city or a township.
“Today more than ever, rural communities must address specific issues not all Americans face,” said Tammy Bending, Vice President of ThedaCare Medical Centers-Berlin and Wild Rose. “Some issues include meeting the needs of an aging population, treating and maintaining chronic conditions and providing access for a larger percentage of uninsured and underinsured people. This is about putting our patients and families first. We want to provide the best care for rural communities.”
The consumer-focused design of the new ED is centered on the wellbeing and ease of patients and their families in a comfortable, soothing environment.
The ED at ThedaCare Medical Center-Berlin will feature the newest technology and equipment. The architectural design aims to reduce cost, improve capacity, provide sustained operational efficiency and ultimately focus on an exceptional patient experience.
“Our goal is to create a modern facility that will provide the best experience for patients and offer a more efficient work area for care teams,” said Bending. “The new ED also will include a larger trauma room and a room with a bariatric lift to aid care providers in transferring disabled patients or those who have difficulty standing.”
Bending also noted plans include expanding the number of treatment rooms from seven to nine, and increasing the size of those rooms. She explained the larger rooms will allow patients to have family members with them, while still allowing for plenty of space for team members to provide treatment.
Physicians, clinicians and staff played a role in the design process, helping architects understand the needs of patients.
“One important feature is the health care team’s workstation, which will be located in the center of the area, with treatment rooms located on the perimeter,” explained Bending. “That will give our team a direct line of sight into each room, which improves patient safety and quality of care.”
The design also took into account the potential needs of the rural community.
“The new space has a dedicated decontamination room with a shower,” said Bending. “We are a part of a large farming and agri-business community, so the chances of chemical contamination are real; this specialized room will allow us to be able to care for multiple victims if such a situation should arise.”
The current ED will be operational throughout the entire construction phase. ThedaCare expects the increased space and enhanced patient experience of the new ED will lead to serving more patients and enhancing provider recruitment in the coming years.
“By updating our ED, we want patients to feel confident knowing they don’t need to go far to get the kind of care they need,” said Thompson. “Our goal is to empower each person to live their best life.”
Enhancements to better the patient experience are being funded through generous donors who support the ThedaCare Foundation-Berlin, which is part of the ThedaCare Family of Foundations. The Foundation has committed to contributing at least $500,000 to the ED project, which will include a number of fundraising efforts in the community.
An example of this support can be found in a former health care employee in Berlin. Tammy J. Chier explained she knows how important it is to have access to emergency care and updated technology and equipment in rural areas that can be trusted to deliver the quality of care patients and families deserve. Chier has graciously committed a pledge of $250,000 for the project.
She now has a request for the community.
“Join me,” she said. “Let’s come together and support this project. I challenge community members to match my pledge. By supporting ThedaCare efforts of a renovated ED area, it will ultimately make our community healthier and stronger.”
“Through efforts like the groundbreaking of the new ED area in Berlin, we are committed to delivering the level of expertise that patients here in Wisconsin deserve,” said Dr. Andrabi. “We want to empower patients and families to live their best lives — through better health.”