Published on January 08, 2009

Washington Adventist Hospital Emergency Department Renovation Reduces Potential Overcrowding

Larger, more efficient triage area combined with specialized training cuts wait

Takoma Park, MD - Washington Adventist Hospital unveiled its newly modernized Emergency Department (ED) today which enhances patient care and reduces the potential for overcrowding and long waits. Overcrowding of emergency rooms has been a significant concern at hospitals across the nation for the past several years.


“Our Emergency Department was originally designed to care for 25,000 patients,” said Carlos McCormack, Executive Director of the Washington Adventist Hospital’s Emergency Department. “We are now seeing more than 45,000 patient visits a year. Innovative processes and increased efficiency was needed in order to accommodate this current and future growth and ensure the continued delivery of safe, quality care to our patients.”

A year ago, just before planning for the redesign began, hospital officials had already been taking steps to improve wait times in the Emergency Department. But they soon realized a larger and more efficient triage area – which creates additional space for rapid medical evaluation of patients when emergency department beds are full – was necessary to improve patient flow and reduce the potential for overcrowding. In addition, hospital staff and resources are more readily available to meet any incoming emergency patient need, of any acuity.

The upgraded Emergency Department at Washington Adventist Hospital has several new elements that allow for more rapid treatment of patients, including:

  • Larger triage area. The additional space allows for simultaneous medical evaluation by a physician, nurse and technician as soon as a patient enters the emergency department.
  • Specialized training. Current ED staff has undergone special training in the rapid assessment and treatment of patients.
  • Fast-track area. This new area is dedicated to those who are less seriously ill or injured so that they receive appropriate care in a short time.
  • Point-of-care testing.   The use of the portable clinical analyzer “I-Stat” and new ultrasound technology at the patient’s bedside provides a rapid diagnosis. Immediate visualization of body systems allows for timely treatment. This is especially important for the acutely ill or injured patient.

“We believe this could be a model for other hospitals faced with the challenge of ED overcrowding,” said Dr. Drew White, Medical Director of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Washington Adventist Hospital . In the first month of operation, the number of patients who leave the emergency department without being seen by medical personnel because the wait is too long, dropped by a third. “Our community is getting better care because of this new system of treatment.”

Dr. White recently met with leaders of the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services System (MIEMSS) to discuss improvements the hospital has made in the past year to address reducing diversion times -- when emergency responders are asked to take patients to the next nearest hospital because an emergency department is at capacity. The redesign has also helped continue that success. Since the new triage area opened in early December, the hospital has had zero hours of diversion.

“Modernizing this area of the hospital is an example of our commitment to improving our current facilities and services and enhancing the quality of care we provide the community,” said Jere Stocks, President of Washington Adventist Hospital.

The Washington Adventist Hospital Foundation provided a total of $250,000 to fund the renovation and upgrade of the Emergency Department.

Washington Adventist Hospital   is a 292-bed acute-care facility located in Takoma Park, Maryland . Washington Adventist Hospital is Montgomery County ’s first cardiac center, performing more than 500 open-heart surgeries and more than 6,000 heart catheterizations each year. Washington Adventist Hospital is part of Adventist HealthCare, an integrated health-care delivery system based in Rockville, Maryland, that is one of the largest employers in the state of Maryland . Adventist HealthCare includes Washington Adventist Hospital, Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, Potomac Ridge Behavioral Health, Adventist Rehabilitation Hospital of Maryland, Adventist Senior Living Services, Hackettstown Community Hospital and Adventist Home Health Services, the Reginald S. Lourie Center for Children and Infants and LifeWork Strategies.