The nation’s large-sized hospitals chronically suffer overcrowding at their emergency rooms, exposing patients to higher risk of additional infections.
To resolve the issue and provide better emergency medical service, Yonsei University’s Severance Hospital has revamped its emergency care center, the hospital said.
Severance세브란스병원 has completed an 11-month-long extension of its emergency care center, more than doubling the space to 3,300 square meters, from 1,520㎡. The renovation focused on preventing infection risks and broadening the space for emergency patients, it said.
Emergency partitions, new air conditioning prevent infection
The Severance Hospital’s emergency care center aimed not only at expanding the building but enhancing the prevention of infection within the building.
The building has three main entrances frequently used by patients and their families.
Each entrance is divided for walking patients, patients carried from/to ambulance, and patients with fever or infection. The entrance is equipped with a device to monitor a patient with fever and a negative pressure air conditioning system to block any pollutants from coming in. The CCTVs and heat-sensing cameras are installed to sync with the opening and closing of the entrance, preventing any patient suspected of having a fever from entering.
At the entrance where walking patients pass by, the hospital installed double doors to screen out patients with infection risk. The heat sensor will prohibit a patient with infection risk from entering the building. As soon as the door is closed, staff will approach and enquire the patient about overseas travel experiences or signs of infection. If an infection is suspected, the patient will be asked to use the fever-sensing entrance.
The emergency care center also has a new air conditioning system that pollutants cannot spread outside of the building.
Before the renovation, the building had a positive pressure air conditioning, which allowed contaminants to spread within the zone quickly.
However, the new air conditioning system allows the air to come down from the ceiling to floor through walls, which better prevent infection, said hospital officials.
The new center also adopted an emergency partitioning system to separate the space in case the building is exposed to fire or flooding. The emergency partitions, installed in treatment rooms, allow the hospital to close parts of the building in the case of massive infections. The system completely separates infected patients from other patients, minimizing the chance of additional infection.
The renovation also allowed more space between beds to prevent infection. The emergency care center put 2.5-meter space for one bedroom ward, and 5-meter space between beds for two-bed wards. The areas are much wider than the government’s current recommendation of 1.5 meters.
Different colors for different acuteness
Another measure to tackle the chronic overcrowding problem was to adopt so-called “triage” system where nurses categorize patients for efficient examinations and treatments.
At two additional reception desks, medical workers will label patients in five degrees depending on their acuteness, following the “Korean Triage and Acuity Scale,” or KTAS. Those of first to third grade will be divided into the Blue Zone for adult patients and the Pink Zone for children patients.
The Blue Zone will be split into A, B and C, all separated by partitions to prevent infection. A is where critical patients get treated. There are 16 single-bed rooms, the highest number in Korea, the hospital said. B is for two-bed rooms with much wider space. C is for serious patients who do not have to lie down to get treated. Patients can sit in a comfortable reclining chair with an individual monitor and receive fluid therapy.
The Pink Zone for serious patients of young age has eight beds, including an isolated ward. As most children come to the emergency center with light symptoms, the hospital focused on space expansion. The hospital set up 20 sets of treatment units so that children and their guardians could stay together during treatments. The zone can accommodate up to 40 people at once. Compared with the past, the area has additional 70 percent of the space.
The Orange Zone is for treating patients with light symptoms. These patients do not need fluid therapy. The zone includes reception and waiting space.
The Special Zone for patients suspected of suffering an infectious disease has two beds equipped with a negative pressure air-conditioning system, as standardized by the government. The Intensive Care Zone also has a separate partitioning structure to prevent infection within the hospital.
The separation of space for treatments offers patients privacy, safety, and convenience, positively affecting them in environmental and psychological ways, the hospital said. Radially-formed space allows medical staffs to observe patients better and shortens their moving lines.
The newly revamped emergency care center has exclusive wards, drastically relieving the overcrowding. The 25 new wards located on the second floor offer intensive care up to 48 hours, with the patient’s agreement.
Full system ready for quick, precise treatments
For quick diagnosis for emergency patients, the center also expanded examination equipment. Not only the existing CT scanning room but angiography room has been set within the center to quickly examine super-urgent patients such as those with cardiovascular disease and cerebrovascular disease.
Patients and their guardians can see the flow of examinations and treatments on an electronic signage, divided by four steps. The signage helps them know which stage the patients are undergoing.
The hospital said it would also enhance nurses’ “exclusive coordinator system” and co-work with trauma and surgery department for critical patients. The exclusive coordinator system allows five nurses to work fully as a coordinator for 24 hours, coordinating the patient transfer from other medical institutions and communication with various departments to quicken the treatment process. The 24-hour monitoring can allow for close work coordination with trauma and surgery department for critical patients.
“We will set up an exclusive coordination center to manage human and other resources efficiently within the hospital, as well as facilities such as operating rooms and ICU. It will be a control tower, systematically managing emergency patients,” said Park In-cheol, director of the emergency care center at the Severance Hospital.
“We will enhance regular education programs for firefighters and rescue workers in our community, to play our role as an emergency center fully,” he went on to say.
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