ShareThis Page

Hospital work being studied

Chuck Biedka
| Tuesday, April 5, 2005

An expansion of the emergency department at Allegheny Valley Hospital is under consideration, but it won't happen this year.

Cindy K. Schamp, the hospital's president and chief executive officer, said a study of the area's emergency room needs won't be completed until after this summer. Formal plans then would be drawn up and the project sent out for bid.

The improvements would be completed about 18 months after contracts are awarded.

That would push the expansion into 2007.

Thus far, the hospital's parent company, West Penn-Allegheny Health System, hasn't given final authorization for the project and it's unclear how much the system will pay toward the expansion and how much hospital patrons will pay.

Those answers aren't needed until after the needs study is completed, managers said.

When the hospital merged with the then-Citizens General Hospital in New Kensington five years ago, officials said the Allegheny Valley emergency room expansion could cost about $1 million.

"That would be a Band-Aid on a hemorrhage," said Dr. Jerry Taylor, the department's medical director.

The improvements needed to serve the community for at least 15 years will cost more than $6 million, Schamp said.

Schamp said the center is serious about expanding the emergency department. At least 60 percent of emergency room patients become hospital inpatients, and that's vitally important to the center, she said.

For years, patients have complained of long waits to be treated in the AVH emergency room.

Schamp said that in the two years she has directed the hospital, steps have been taken to reduce patient waiting in the 12-bay emergency department, which treats about 31,000 patients annually. Another 14,000 patients are treated in the Citizens Ambulatory Care Center in New Kensington.

Officials said the AVH emergency room averaged 2,623 patients per month in 2004, up from 2,531 in 2003. Ambulances had to be diverted to another emergency room 1.5 hours per month in 2004, down substantially from 23 hours per month in 2003, according to hospital statistics.

Schamp said a physicians group contract provides more doctors for more hours in the AVH emergency department. That's important because more doctors on duty means quicker treatment, she said.

Taylor said the triage process, which rates the seriousness of an illness or injury, has been streamlined. Bedside registration and faster lab reports also have reduced waiting time.

A year-old "fast track" program seeks to treat and discharge patients with minor injuries or ailments within 60 minutes. In 2004, the fast track unit had an average length of stay of 79 minutes, said hospital Vice President Michael Harlovic.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me