Northwell’s new-look ER dazzles in Bay Shore

In case of emergency: Southside Hospital has cut the ribbon on its new, and still improving, Bohlsen Family Emergency Department.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

It’s 30,000 square feet bigger and renovations have cost about $60 million to date, but the Bohlsen Family Emergency Department at Southside Hospital isn’t done growing yet.

When all is said and done – most likely, in November 2017 – a $76 million project will have created a 50,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art emergency department boasting 94 total treatment rooms and the ability to handle some 100,000 annual emergency visits (the Bay Shore hospital’s emergency and trauma teams now care for more than 70,000 patients per year, according to the Northwell Health system).

Michael Dowling: Flying high.

Michael Dowling: Flying high with SkyHealth.

But on Thursday, just days after Northwell Health officially introduced its new SkyHealth helipad outside Southside Hospital’s emergency department, local government and business dignitaries gathered in Bay Shore to salute the progress already made in the Bohlsen Family Emergency Department.

Already triple the size of its former self, the new emergency room is scheduled to open to the public Sept. 13. Thursday’s ceremony saluted completion of the renovation’s first phase, which included construction of a new emergency entrance on the hospital’s south side, the addition of four new rapid-assessment intake rooms, the creation of 14 new general treatment rooms and the inclusion of new treatment areas dedicated to the morbidly obese and to obstetrics/gynecology patients.

Also included in Phase 1: a six-bed behavioral health unit, plus the new helipad, which will service not only Northwell Health’s SkyHealth helicopter but emergency choppers operated by other hospitals and providers.

While all of the Phase 1 improvements are important, Northwell Health President and CEO Michael Dowling specifically noted the advantages – to patients and caregivers alike – afforded by the new helipad.

“With SkyHealth, our emergency helicopter transport service, trauma patients can be flown here to Southside or other Northwell Health hospitals in a matter of minutes, saving valuable time that can often mean the difference between life and death,” Dowling said.

The $76 million expansion project is the latest investment by Northwell Health to establish Southside Hospital as a premier Suffolk County healthcare destination, the CEO added.

A cardiothoracic surgery program established in 2011 at the Bay Shore hospital has now provided life-saving care to roughly 2,000 patients, according to the health system, while investments in Southside’s trauma-response capabilities have helped the hospital earn the American College of Surgeons verifications needed to become a state-designated Level II Trauma Center.

Phase 2 of the emergency department facelift will include a new decontamination suite, X-ray and computer tomography upgrades, a seven-bed pediatric unit, a dedicated critical care/trauma area and a 16-bed clinical observation unit – new spaces delivering “a new way of treating patients,” according to Donna Moravick, a registered nurse and executive director of Southside Hospital.

“Patients will be triaged immediately and begin to receive their care, including laboratory tests or imaging scans, much sooner,” Moravick noted. “Patients will also be separated based on their acuity, so people with less-serious injuries will not have to wait in the same cue behind a serious trauma case.”

In addition to Northwell Health executives and a plethora of regional lawmakers, Thursday’s curtain-raising was highlighted by Laura Spencer, a 30-year-old Bay Shore resident who suffered a ruptured aortic aneurysm – a burst artery – while driving to Southside Hospital last summer to visit her daughter Bryanna, who was born several weeks premature.

Rescued by Southside Hospital emergency physicians, Spencer attended Thursday’s event – with Bryanna, now 14 months, and her husband, Bryan – to underscore the importance of quality, community-based emergency care.

“If I had not received expert medical treatment in the quick manner that I did, I wouldn’t be here to care for and enjoy being with my daughter and family,” Spencer said.

That’s a belief shared by John and Linda Bohlsen, namesakes of the refurbished emergency department, and other generous supporters without whom the $60 million expansion would not be possible, according to Mark Claster, chairman of Northwell Health’s Board of Trustees.

“The Bohlsens believe in Southside’s mission and saw a critical need to expand its emergency department years ago,” Claster said. “We are glad to see that their vision for expanded emergency care is finally becoming a reality.”