The frantic arrival of an ambulance at the hospital is a fixture of television programs and what most people envision when they think about an emergency room.But why is the back half of an ambulance poking into a room on the second story of the new emergency department at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth?It’s part of an elaborate simulation lab that will train hospital staffers and other emergency responders at the new $57 million facility, which is expected to open this month. Besides the fully equipped ambulance mock-up, the simulation lab includes an operating room and sophisticated “human patient simulators” that breathe, blink and can even cry or respond to anesthetics and other medications.“There’s no hospital in the area that has anything like this,” although local medical and nursing schools have similar equipment for student training, said Debbie Krauser, director of the Fort Worth Emergency Services Collaboration, which includes a number of first responders in the area. The hospital launched its 75,000-square-foot, 100-bed project in mid-2012. The freestanding facility, nearly triple the size of the existing ER, is just south of the main hospital and connected by a skywalk.The current emergency room, a part of the main hospital, will be converted to other uses.In 2013, about 108,000 people, or an average of nearly 300 a day, were treated at the hospital’s emergency department. That’s tens of thousands more than it was designed for.The new facility expands the number of beds about 50 percent and is designed to allow efficient treatment not just for traumatic injuries but also less-serious conditions.A light-filled, spacious lobby at the front entrance at 910 Fifth Ave. leads to the first line of treatment, dubbed “supertrack.” Two triage rooms and eight treatment stations are intended to identify and treat minor cases in 60 minutes or less, said Christy Daae, the emergency department’s nurse manager.“No one waits in our ER,” Daae said.Patients who need more attention are taken to the 26-room Quick Care section of the facility, and those requiring extensive workups will head for one of 42 diagnosis room. Ultrasound, X-ray, CAT scanners and MRI machines are nearby.The most serious cases go to emergent care, a level that Daae says includes patients who are at risk of death without immediate attention. The facility has 22 emergent care rooms, including three resuscitation rooms for the most severe trauma, such as gunshot wounds and automobile accidents.Cases that require additional specialized care, such as cardiac catheterization for heart attacks, are wheeled through the skywalk to the main hospital. Between 15 and 20 percent of ER patients require admission to the hospital, Daae said.The new facility has a dedicated area for sexual assault victims and a large senior clinic. While the project is new from the ground up, it also accommodates the emergency department’s current policies and practices.“It’s not the physical plant that makes the place. It’s the people and the culture” of caring, said Lillie Biggins, president of Harris Methodist Fort Worth.
Jim Fuquay, 817-390-7552 Twitter: @jimfuquay