LACONIA — A ceremonial groundbreaking marked the start of construction for the $7.5 million renovation of Lakes Region General Hospital’s emergency room in a project dubbed “Emergency Care ReimaginED.”

Hospital trustees, management, medical providers, architects, builders, and community members attended the celebration of a project that is completely funded through personal donations from the community.

The renovated emergency department will meet current standards while reorganizing the department to streamline patient flow, according to LRGHealthcare Executive Director of Philanthropy Brian Winslow. He said the project should bring increased efficiency and a better patient care experience.

“One of the busiest in the state of New Hampshire, the emergency department in Laconia handles around 25,000 patients a year and does a really great job,” Winslow said. “Very generous donors stepped up to fund this effort because they know how important the emergency department is to LRGHealthcare and to our community.”

Referring to the emergency room as the “true front door to LRGHealthcare,” President and Chief Executive Officer Kevin Donovan thanked the donors and discussed how the emergency department renovations would bring the facility “on par with the level of quality, compassionate care provided.”

The renovation already has upgraded the behavioral health patient area.

According to a statement from the hospital, the renovation will provide a better patient flow. “When entering the ED, patients will immediately access an open, more welcoming registration and triage area where staff will quickly determine the necessary level of care,” the release stated. “Patients will then progress through the ED to appropriate functional areas based on their needs.”

Another benefit is an increased capacity for faster flexible care. There will be 21 private treatment spaces that meet contemporary standards and are designed for maximum versatility and utilization. Traditional treatment rooms will be universally designed so they are consistent in size, configuration and equipment. The rooms will be geographically zoned into what the hospital refers to as three “pods,” each with its own nurses’ station and waiting room.

“Each pod has a purpose,” the hospital explained. “The green pod contains registration and triage for the entire ED. The blue pod is available to handle increased volume in the ED. On the other side of the green pod is the ‘Rapid Treatment Unit’ ... designated to handle the less serious cases quickly.

There will be greater security for patients and staff. Currently, the emergency department is, for the most part, open to foot traffic in and out of the area.

“In its current state, individuals who are in the ED could make their way to anywhere in the hospital, whether that is to patient rooms or support staff offices,” the hospital stated. “Public foot traffic can also cause hallway congestion, presenting challenges for ED staff to get their patients where they need to go in a private manner.”

The new setup will reroute the foot traffic and offer a secure perimeter.

Medically important will be improved infection control standards.

“LRGHealthcare already receives high marks in the state of New Hampshire for infection control standards,” the release stated, “but we can and should always improve. The new ED will see the addition of a negative-pressure room and bring the number of single-patient exam rooms up to 21. It will also include an update to our decontamination room to conform to current standards,” the hospital stated.

The emergency department staff has been very involved in the planning of the project, working closely with the architects and builders to keep interruptions to patient care at a minimum during the construction phase, which is projected to be complete in 2020.

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