NCH Baker Hospital opens new emergency department

Published: December 20, 2021 8:45 AM EST
Updated: December 20, 2021 7:24 PM EST

NCH Baker is opening its new emergency department on Monday, with larger rooms that offer more privacy and state-of-the-art equipment to make it easier to treat people faster.

The new 19,000-square-foot department has a CT scanner with the highest capacity of all of NCH’s facilities, which will help take care of strokes, trauma, and other needs immediately within the emergency department. There are also two triage rooms to help bring in patients faster, radiology capabilities to evaluate things like simple ankle sprains, and high-acuity rooms for patients who need more care. The NCH Baker emergency room sees around 45,000 visits each year, making it the busiest within the NCH system. Doctors say this new department will help provide more functional, personalized and private care for patients.

Shawn Patterson is the chair of emergency medicine at NCH and knows that no one wants to go to the emergency room, but especially not in the middle of a pandemic. “When you go to the emergency department, it’s invariably not your best day,” Patterson said.

“The rooms offer privacy, they offer, you know, more comfort, they’re quiet, they kind of block out a lot of the things that would have been coming in from the outside parts of a busy emergency department—the noise, the commotion—and allow us to really focus on that one-on-one patient interaction,” said Dr. Todd Bethel, medical director of the NCH Baker emergency department.

“We dedicated a 128-slice CT scanner and 2 X-RAY rooms so that those diagnostics can be performed right in the emergency department,” said Patterson.

This addition could not have come at a better time, right at the start of the holidays, and NCH says the new department can expand further to accommodate the recent influx of people. The previous department only had 32 beds, but the new one will have 41, each of them in a private room. During the construction phase of this expansion, NCH says it was working with around 21 beds—doable in the summer when there were fewer people there. Still, the staff is glad to know they will now be able to have almost double the beds available as tourists and snowbirds flock down to Southwest Florida.

CEO of NCH Healthcare, Paul Hiltz, says the new facility is twice the size of the old one. “We expanded our footprint almost twice as large, 47,000 square feet. We increased our bed spaces from 32 beds to 43 beds,” Hiltz said.

The doctors spoken to by WINK News say they feel fortunate to have the increased space to treat more patients during the season.

“This ER has the unique capacity to kind of expand and contract with our seasonal fluctuation in patients,” Bethel said. “And so we have the ability to take care of patients year-round and make sure that we have enough rooms and capacity to take care of all those patients in a timely fashion.”

Not only will the new facility save you time, but it will offer more privacy to patients, doctors and nurses. “When I first came here to NCH, it was a big bay of beds separated only by curtains, and it didn’t allow for a lot of patient privacy. We changed all that now, these beautiful private rooms. A lot of privacy, a lot of infection control,” said Hiltz. This infection control is integral to the fight against COVID-19.

The ER at NCH Baker is now accepting patients. This ER is staff entirely by board-certified, residency-trained emergency physicians.