Welcome to the new Emergency Department at Southside Hospital 

I had the privilege of taking a tour of the new Bohlsen Family Emergency Department at Southside Hospital. Once I walked through the sliding doors only one word came to my mind: WOW. This newly renovated facility had light colored walls, a beautiful structure, an open atmosphere and a  welcoming feeling to it. I was greeted by Jim Wescott, ED Nurse Manager, and Harold Fischer, ED Director of Patient Care Services, who began to explain this beautifully built facility. The new building is three times larger than the old ED, and is able to treat 70,000 patients a year because of the new set-up, process improvements, and the amount of staff they have working at any given time. Looking around the new 30,000 square foot facility I began to ask a million questions – what were the new rooms I was looking at? What did the lighting system above each door mean? Why was the department built this way? The list went on, and on.

Jim and Harold began the tour with a look at the new private patient rooms and began to answer my questions about the lighting notification system that each room had.  They showed me the chart inside each room that showed a color coded system which helps streamline the patient examination process and experience, and the 4 lights above each door change with the patient and room needs. The red light means that there is a patient in the room and needs vital signs taken. The yellow light means that there is a provider in the room, the green light means the room needs cleaning, and the blue light means that the patient needs care. The lights also flash to indicate that the patient needs care, the patient is ready to move, or the room is empty.” 

They then went into the building design and how it was created with two major factors in mind, the  patient experience and employee needs. Designed for efficiency, the re-construction of the ED absorbs excess noise so it creates a calming atmosphere, even when it’s at full capacity. You can actually hear a pin drop! There are two central nursing stations so it gives nurses and doctors the extra room they need and creates a better working environment. With 16 private rooms and a 5 bed isolation unit, the nurses are constantly moving between patients, and after talking to a few it was clear that they appreciate having two stations to choose from. 

“I love the new ED – it’s great to have 2 nurses’ stations because you always have access to what you need when you need it. When you have 2 stations, you are constantly in contact with everyone and you are always walking past your patients, which makes you check on them more. This also increases communication between nurses and doctors with their patients which allows us to provide them with the best care possible.” said Jeanette Pisano, Emergency RN.




Independent Treatment Rooms


Nursing Station


Results Waiting Area


Treatment Chairs




Jim continued to say, “With the new process improvements and design we have been able to set a new standard of Emergency  care for our patients” Since the opening they have been able to increase their PresGaney scores from the 10th percentile to the 75th  Dr. Gregory Garra, one of the Emergency Department doctors said,

“The new ED gives us the capability to take medicine and turn it upside down. It takes a little bit to get used to, but once you understand the process it’s a breath of fresh air. The learning curve took less than a week, and it helps everyone – from the patients, to the nurses to the doctors. From a clinical perspective the new department and lighting system allows you to receive support right from the gecko because of all the communication. As a doctor I am able to see the patients right away – they send them in and I see them. The support is far better than the traditional support found in other hospitals.”

From there we headed towards the new Behavioral Health Department which was designed for the safety of the patients, as well as the staff. The unit consists of 6 private rooms with a secure interview room when they first check in. I was able to chat with the staff working there which consisted of security guards, social workers, registered nurses, environmental services workers, and a psychiatrist. The great part about the layout of the department was that the workers always have views of all of the rooms so they could keep watch of their patients while talking to me. The unique part about the new Behavioral Health department was that they had their own ambulance entrance for patients to come through. This was something that the nurses really loved, because the team can immediately start assessing patients and give them the care they needed without having to go through the ED.

The rest of the trip consisted of viewing the helipad for our SkyHealth helicopter program, touring the old Emergency Department, and talking about the next steps to come – which includes a Pediatric ED, infectious disease unit and a new unit for patients who need to have a longer stay. With 60 treatment spaces, radiology suites, a rapid access area, a new layout, and process improvements, it seems as if this new Emergency Department has it all – for the patients, and for the employees.

lbluetipExperience the new Emergency Department for yourself – explore our current openings at Southside Hospital.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *