Soon, Trinity Health’s legacy hospital in downtown Minot will wind down operations after 100-plus years and the new Healthcare Campus and Medical District will open its doors for patient care.
On the morning the new hospital opens, the downtown hospital will cease to accept new patients, and the Emergency Trauma Center in southwest Minot will open for business- a key transition in what will be a momentous passing of the torch.
Jeffrey Sather, MD, MBA, FACEP, an emergency physician and medical director of the Emergency Trauma Center, says the timing is no coincidence. “We wanted to pick a time when census is usually a little bit lower, so the move will be happening at 6 a.m. All staff necessary will show up for work that day in the new ETC for their shift. The new ETC will open at 6 o’clock in the morning, and we’ll begin receiving patients.”
Move day will be a highly choreographed production for every hospital department as they begin seeing patients at the new facility while closing out activity at the old hospital. Extensive planning has gone into making the transition as smooth, safe and seamless as possible. Nowhere has that planning been more intense than in the ETC. “We’re no ordinary business,” Dr. Sather noted. We can’t switch lights off in one emergency department and turn them on in the new one. We’re a 24/7 enterprise.”
The first step in ETC’s plan is making sure the new emergency department is up and running at 6 a.m. on move day and that staff is ready to function effectively in the new space. This means making sure exam rooms are stocked, equipment is in place and everything needed for patient care is available. This part of the plan has been the focus of planning teams for some time, with inventory checklists and other planning tools developed and ready to be activated.
The next step, according to Sather, is to ensure that staff feels comfortable working in the new space. This involves training, walk-throughs, “day-in-the-life” opportunities and other sessions where staff can practice patient care scenarios to increase their comfort level in the new location.
“The basic steps of caring for a patient are no different wherever you are,” he explained, “but when you’re in a new space, little things are going to be in different places. What we’re used to in the old space as far as patient movement and the steps it takes going from one room to another is going to be different. We need to ensure that on day one when the new ETC opens, our staff is comfortable that they can find what they need quickly so they can respond appropriately with various teams to deal with patients.”
The final step is the plan for move day itself. Sather says when the magic hour of 6 a.m. arrives, the new ETC will open for business and the old emergency department will no longer accept patients. “We’ll continue to evaluate and treat patients that are already here until all are taken care of, but we won’t be accepting any additional patients after 6 a.m.,” he said.
At that hour, ambulances and patients in private vehicles will need to seek emergency care at the new Emergency Trauma Center. Signage will go up at the old location directing people to the new address – 2305 37th Ave SW. Also, at roughly that same hour, area ambulance crews and state health partners will begin transporting hospital patients from the old facility to the new hospital – about one patient every eight minutes in a process that could take most of the day.
“As we wind down the census in the old ETC and the census gets lower and lower, some staff will be able to end their shift to help out in other areas of the hospital. When last patient is dispositioned, the old ETC will close its doors for good. The lights will go off and it will no longer be functioning,” Sather stated.
His hope is that the census in the old emergency room will have wound down sufficiently by noon on move day so that ETC staff can be available to help other departments, as the entire hospital is moving that day, “That will be an all-hands-on-deck day for us,” he said. “If you stop and think about it, we’re going to be operating two ETCs at the same time for several hours. We’ll need a full complement of staff in the new ETC and a full complement of staff to begin with in the old ETC until all of our patients have been treated.”
Other departments will be in a similar situation until the last patient has left the old hospital building. They’ll have to be ready and capable to take care of any patient needs. “The Radiology Department will still have to be up and running, the Lab will have to be up and running, the OR will have to be available for any emergent surgical needs,” Sather noted. “All of those departments will need to be up and running until the entirety of the old hospital is shut down.”
The upshot is that come move day, Trinity Health will be operating two hospitals simultaneously, which is why it’s going to be an all-hands situation. “Essentially we’ll be doubling our staff for that day,” Sather said.
Once the last patient has left the old ETC and all patient care activity has ended, the department will be decommissioned.
Disposable supplies will be reinventoried; equipment will moved to the new facility or prepared for resale; and the space will be cleaned out. Details on the decommissioning of the old facility will be shared in a future article.
For Dr. Sather and the ETC staff, move day can’t come quick enough. “We’ve been in this process for so many years. I think I said about 15 years ago that I’m going to work in the new hospital before I retire, and it looks like I’m going to make it.”