New Castle News

March 21, 2013

Part 1: Modern facility means more privacy, space for Jameson patients

David Burcham
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Jameson Hospital’s new wing is ready to take flight.

Opening day for the state-of-the-art emergency and operating rooms is Monday, but the public can get a tour of the facilities from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

A special ribbon cutting ceremony is scheduled for 11 a.m. tomorrow with a reception for Jameson’s Healthcare partners planned from 4 to 7 p.m.

The new 22,500-square foot ER more than triples the size of the current resource that will close when staff arrives for the 7 a.m. shift Monday.

The 30,000-square foot operating room, which occupies the second floor of the new wing, will be featured in tomorrow’s edition.

The modern ER will ease the congestion of treating 40,000 patients annually that has been a daily challenge in the current facility, which was designed in the 1970s with a capacity to manage 28,000 patients a year.

The current ER is often cramped with workers as well as patients and their families in tight spaces. The 15 available chairs in the waiting room were usually filled, forcing the overflow to stand in the connecting hallways.

“They adapted to the claustrophobic environment,” Donna Cochran, director of nursing, said of her staff.

The new waiting room features three different seating sections with a total of 35 chairs for patients and their families.

Connie DePaolo has been on the nursing staff since 1990 and is counting the hours until the changeover. She’s not alone. “We’ve been thinking about for a long time,” she said.

“The crescendo is building,” said Neil Chessin, vice president of operations, who was making some last-minute tweaks earlier this week in preparation for the  opening.

“From an artist’s rendering seven years ago to reality,” said Chessin, who believes the community will be as wowed by the facilities as Jameson’s administrators and staff are.

“First impressions are important,” he said. “We think the public will be impressed with what they see and how we plan to meet their medical needs.”

Chessin said the public played a role in the planning of the new ER along with staff and management. “It’s been a team effort,” he said.

He noted the improved facilities have attracted physicians to Jameson.

“The ER was designed for patient flow and the easy moving of patients from one area to another,” said Tony Bono, director of patient care.

The Jameson ER treats about 100 patients per day, but that number can be rise to more than 160 during the influenza season.



New technology will provide cutting edge capabilities for treatment, infection prevention and improved communication.

Privacy for the triage and registration areas as well as more space were major concerns voiced by former ER patients, who returned questionnaires about their experiences. Accessibility and comfort for patients and their families were also priorities.

“We took concerns of the public and addressed them,” Chessin said.

The new ER features 30 identical private exam rooms that come equipped with many comforts, including computers so doctors can get things moving immediately, and televisions to help patients with their waiting time. In keeping with Jameson’s goal of making the ER experience faster and better for patients, there are machines that dispense medication to nurses.

The average time a patient spends in the ER is four to five hours, but that’s because some are there for an hour and others for ten.

Bono said the additional space, privacy and comforts of the addition will help patients and their families as they cope with painful and stressful situations.

There are dedicated rooms for trauma, orthopedic, bariatric, obstetrics and gynecology, infection isolation, assault and behavioral health patient needs.

Areas have also been designated for EMS, police, security and other local service partners. There is also a staff room with an adjoining locker room and designated consultation and conference rooms that are larger and more comfortable than the old ones.

There are three behavior health rooms that feature wall murals painted by local artist Kenneth Cole. “They are very calming and therapeutic,” said Cochran.

The triage room is where initial assessments are made to determine which patients need first access to a physician.

There is a wall that separates a seating area from the registration windows when patients share their personal information in a more private setting.

The ER also will be the new home of the X-ray department and lab technicians. All roles have been redesigned for sharing of tasks.

Upon entering the ER from where patients are taken from ambulances or from EMS helicopters (there is a landing pad about 20 yards from the entrance), there is a decontamination shower room for anyone who might come into contact with chemical radiation or hazardous materials.




There are two trauma rooms for critical patients and two x-ray rooms, one that features a 160-slice CT (computed tomography) scanner.

Lisa Lombardo, director of public relations and marketing, said the scanner uses the most advanced technology to generate images that are unsurpassed in resolution and clinical detail.

“It’s the only one of its kind in western Pennsylvania,” she said. The scanner is built with the latest advances in low dose technology resulting in less radiation than conventional CT. This low dose technology ensures patients receive the highest quality images for diagnosis.

Cochran said there are between four and eight nurses on staff most hours of the day with one to three physicians are always available.

Chessin said no decisions have been made regarding how the areas that housed the former ER and OR will be put to use next.

Donna has experienced both sides of the emergency room experience, first as a nurse and two years ago as patient after being injured in an automobile accident.

“I was in a semi private room because that was all that was available,” she said. “Then I had to be taken out of the ER for a CAT scan.”

She said that will no longer be the case.

“What I took away from my experience was the need to make the ER obstacle free, and we’ve done that.

“It’s all about having a passion for our patients.”

(Tomorrow: Lugene Hudson reports on Jameson’s new surgical wing.)