New UK Emergency Department Has More Room for Adults & Kids

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- – Comfortable and soothing are words not often associated with hospitals, especially the ER. But officials at the University of Kentucky say that's their goal for the new Chandler Hospital Emergency Department.

A major part of the new UK Chandler Hospital opens to the public this week: 40,000-square feet of state-of-the art medical space. The ground floor of the ongoing construction project is the emergency department. Prior to Monday's ribbon cutting ceremony, Penne Allison, Director of Emergency Trauma Services, gave me a tour.

"This is kinda like grand central station right here," she says, pointing out the center pod of the ED. "You got your charge nurse here, you have all your physicians here, and your ambulance bay is here. So all the critical patients are going to come through the ambulance bay - hopefully - and then if it's trauma, they'll go right through here into the trauma bay area."

The most obvious characteristic of the new emergency department is its size; it's twice as big as the old ED. That's allowed the hospital to create three distinct areas: the adult emergency center, a Level 1 Trauma Center, and the Makenna David Pediatric Emergency Center.

"My background is pediatrics, so when I first came here, adults and pediatric patients were pretty much thrown together right beside each other in rooms that were multi-use rooms or multi-bed rooms. It wasn't real child friendly."

Allison says the emergency department will now have a separate entrance for children. The kid-friendly d cor features bright colors, and there's an interactive wall in the waiting room.

My tour also includes a stop in the trauma center, which is designed to take care of the most critical patients with life-threatening injuries or illnesses.

"You could end up doing open heart surgery down there if you needed to. So we will actually in that emergency room, in very critical situations, start surgical procedures when seconds really count," says Dr. Michael Karpf, UK's Executive Vice President for Health Affairs.

Karpf, who's helped build two other emergency rooms in the UCLA medical system, says this new emergency department will be the best in the country. He describes it as world-class, but locally inviting.

"A lot of the art is Kentucky art, the landscaping is very distinctly Kentucky landscaping, including stone walls and stone benches and stuff. So it will be something that folks will be proud of."

The emergency department opens to patients on July 14 at 5 a.m. It's part of a larger first phase for the new hospital construction that totals over $500 million dollars.