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A Whole New ER Experience. Designed from the Patient, Up.

Even if you never need to use it, you should be excited about our new Emergency Department for one very good reason: peace of mind. It features all-new private patient rooms, more trauma rooms, a CDC standard decontamination and isolation room, and much more. All told, we anticipate being able to see 24,000 visits in this space each year.

While the space is fantastic, and the capabilities are impressive, there’s more to the story than meets the eye. That’s because we’re changing the way we provide health care in this space.

Approximately 20% of our Emergency Room patients come to the ER without a true emergency. They are experiencing issues that should be cared for in another setting, but they come here. Why?

People return to the ER time and again because they don’t have access to primary care, transportation, healthy nutrition, medications, and more. That creates repetitive health care crises like high blood sugar, or uncontrolled blood pressure. The patients come to the ER when the symptoms become severe. Then they return home and the cycle repeats.

Traditional ER models focus only on the medical crisis at hand, and lack additional resources to help people get better overall. When we started thinking about a new ER, we realized we needed a new approach. We had to rethink how the ER helps all the patients who come to us.

This new $10 million Emergency Room is a better solution. It reflects almost four years of research, brainstorming and design, created to help people become healthier through their ER experience.

The new facility is beautiful, modern and completely up-to-date. But the new process is even better. We have created a new system for admitting patients. We identify the true emergencies as patients enter the doors, and we route those people directly into care. Patients who come to the ER because they have chronic issues will receive personal and immediate connections to resources that can help them improve their long-term health. (See “Connecting Patients to Community Resources” below.)

Having an excellent local health care system is a big deal. It’s part of what makes our community a desirable place to build a business, develop a career, raise a family, and invest in home ownership. The next time you need emergency care, you can be sure that North Ottawa Community Health System is the best place for you to get the care you need.

Connecting Patients to Community Resources
In the earlier part of this article (“Designed from the Patient, Up”) you read about how we have redesigned our ER to provide more effective care for repeated non-emergency visits.

“Some patients need more than just medical treatment,“ says NOCHS president Shelleye Yaklin. “Some may have stopped taking their medications because they can’t afford them. Maybe they have an underlying mental health issue such as anxiety, depression, or stress. Maybe they can’t find a doctor or don’t want to see one. And so they keep coming back to us in the ER. In this new model, we’ve acknowledged that we must do something different, but we can’t do it alone. We’ve created an intersection point in our ER where our community partners can join us in a team approach that ensures we help our patients break this cycle, and truly get better.”

“We had to remove the barriers that stood between the patient and holistic care,” says Yaklin. “We can’t just hand out a piece of paper and say, ‘call these folks for help.’ We need a hands-on, personalized and immediate approach that allows us to meet all the patient’s needs in the moment of crisis.”

Therefore we added dedicated social worker hours in the ER from 7am – midnight. We also have agreements with Love in Action (formerly Love INC), TCM Counseling, Pathways to Better Health and Community Mental Health that allow us to transfer information about patients we share. Our social worker can talk with patients, make appointments for them, and even get a counselor over to the ER right away if needed. We also designed additional space for private meetings and counseling so that these needs can be treated separately from true emergencies. We now view ourselves as one big care team, all looking for the best patient outcomes.

“This was a huge change for all of us, NOCHS as well as our community partners,” confirms Yaklin. “But we are committed to treating the whole person, not just part of you. In order to do that well, we have to widen our circle of expertise. We chose to fill that need through collaboration rather than doing it ourselves. We want the experienced professionals in this community to keep doing what they’re good at doing. We have simply provided an environment where patients can access it in one place during crisis.”

A True Community Collaboration
North Ottawa Community Hospital came into being almost 100 years ago. That’s an impressive history! It’s also a tribute to the sense of pride and ownership that this community feels in its health system.

We are keenly aware of how important this health system is to the lakeshore community. So when we started thinking about the Emergency Room project, we wanted to engage employers, business owners, community leaders and the public. We wanted everyone to embrace the powerful impact of what we could do together.

And our community stepped up! Many generous donors stepped forward and gave so that we could take long-term positive steps towards better health. The generous public donations toward our project’s $2.5 million goal reflect commitment, pride and a strong sense of ownership.

This was the first public fundraising campaign in our 100-year history. Thanks to your commitment and generosity, we are now capable of serving thousands more patients per year in the Emergency Room. We have state-of-the art equipment to handle everyday emergencies, severe traumas, and even infectious incidents. The quality of our facility now matches the expertise of our staff.

We sincerely thank each and every person who gave of their time and resources to make this project a success!

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