Northeast Times

Aria Torresdale expands ER department

Dig­ging in: Con­struc­tion has be­gun on a new emer­gency de­part­ment at Aria Health’s Tor­res­dale cam­pus. The pro­ject is ex­pec­ted to double the hos­pit­al’s ca­pa­city to treat emer­gency pa­tients. MARIA POUCH­NIKOVA / TIMES PHO­TOS

Aria Health broke ground on Monday for a new $37.1 mil­lion emer­gency de­part­ment at its Tor­res­dale cam­pus, a pro­ject that is ex­pec­ted to in­crease the fa­cil­ity’s emer­gency ad­mis­sions ca­pa­city by more than 25,000 pa­tient vis­its per year.

Hos­pit­al of­fi­cials de­scribed the pro­ject as the single greatest ex­pan­sion of the Tor­res­dale fa­cil­ity since its open­ing in 1977 at 10800 Knights Road.

The 18-month un­der­tak­ing will use $3 mil­lion in pub­lic fund­ing and re­quire ac­com­mod­a­tion from hos­pit­al staff and pat­rons, along with the sur­round­ing com­munity. Nu­mer­ous hos­pit­al de­part­ments, in­clud­ing the ex­ist­ing emer­gency room, will be re­lo­cated dur­ing con­struc­tion, while trucks re­mov­ing debris from the site and de­liv­er­ing ma­ter­i­als to it will tra­verse loc­al streets.

“We are really an in­teg­ral part of the com­munity and want to make sure we part­ner with them in everything we do,” said Kath­leen Kinslow, pres­id­ent and CEO of Aria Health. “In the end, we be­lieve we will have a beau­ti­ful emer­gency de­part­ment that will meet the needs of the people we serve every day.”

“It has really taken the whole hos­pit­al com­munity to make this hap­pen,” said Christine Winn, ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or of the Tor­res­dale Cam­pus.

Ac­cord­ing to Winn, the Tor­res­dale emer­gency de­part­ment is the only cer­ti­fied Level II Trauma Cen­ter between Cen­ter City and the St. Mary Med­ic­al Cen­ter north of Lang­horne in Bucks County. It is equipped with a cath­et­er­iz­a­tion lab for heart at­tack pa­tients. As a res­ult, it’s in high de­mand, re­gis­ter­ing about 49,000 pa­tient vis­its a year. It has ex­per­i­enced a gradu­al but per­sist­ent growth in the last sev­er­al years.

“Our trauma pro­gram in the last year has grown from 1,000 [ad­mis­sions] to 1,400,” Winn said.

“We are op­er­at­ing over our [in­ten­ded] ca­pa­city,” Kinslow noted.

In the past, the hos­pit­al has been forced to di­vert pa­tients else­where tem­por­ar­ily dur­ing par­tic­u­larly busy peri­ods. The new emer­gency de­part­ment will have 42 beds, an in­crease of 12. Oth­er high­lights will be sep­ar­ate en­trances for pa­tients ar­riv­ing by am­bu­lance and “walk-in” pa­tients; a sep­ar­ate wait­ing area for pa­tients await­ing test res­ults; a new CT scan­ner; two new ra­di­ology rooms, and an out­pa­tient cen­ter.

Crews will de­mol­ish an “an­nex” build­ing (the former St. Mi­chael’s Hall which pre-dates the hos­pit­al) that housed the hos­pit­al’s fin­ance, patho­logy and en­gin­eer­ing de­part­ments, among oth­er non-pa­tient of­fices. The new build­ing will cov­er 90,000 square feet over three-levels, with plant man­age­ment and en­gin­eer­ing fa­cil­it­ies in the base­ment, the emer­gency de­part­ment on the ground floor and un­deter­mined uses on the second floor.

In ad­di­tion to the $37.1 mil­lion con­struc­tion cost, the hos­pit­al will in­cur oth­er $23 mil­lion in sec­ond­ary costs, such as equip­ment, said Kinslow. Aria board chair­man Robert J. Tru­itt cred­ited state Sens. Mike Stack and Robert M. Tom­lin­son with help­ing se­cure $3 mil­lion in grant fund­ing from Pennsylvania’s Re­devel­op­ment As­sist­ance Cap­it­al Pro­gram. Most of the pro­ject fund­ing will come dir­ectly from the hos­pit­al’s own op­er­a­tions, while private dona­tions ac­count for an­oth­er por­tion, Kinslow said.

Stack and state Rep. Ed Neilson, who said he lives sev­er­al blocks from the hos­pit­al, fo­cused on job cre­ation in their com­ments dur­ing the ground­break­ing ce­re­mony.

“You’re cre­at­ing jobs and provid­ing the best pos­sible health care,” Stack said. “You’re a part­ner, our friend and our neigh­bor.”

“We al­ways see [Aria] out in the com­munity do­ing char­it­able work and cre­at­ing jobs,” Neilson said.

The Tor­res­dale Cam­pus now em­ploys 1,200 people. Hos­pit­al of­fi­cials said they will in­crease staff­ing as needed, but they have not com­mit­ted to a spe­cif­ic num­ber of hires. Some jobs have been moved from the cam­pus, while oth­ers re­lo­cated with­in the cam­pus.

“In the in­ter­im, we’ve moved our emer­gency de­part­ment in­to an empty pa­tient care unit,” Winn said.

The tem­por­ary emer­gency de­part­ment is closest to the hos­pit­al’s Red Li­on Road en­trance. Red signs placed throughout the cam­pus dir­ect ar­riv­ing pa­tients to the emer­gency fa­cil­ity.

With con­struc­tion vehicles, fen­cing and ma­ter­i­als oc­cupy­ing much of the cam­pus, drive­ways and open-air park­ing lots may be more crowded than usu­al. Vis­it­ors will be able to use the hos­pit­al’s 400-space park­ing gar­age, which opened last year.

Turn­er Con­struc­tion Co. is the gen­er­al con­tract­or. The same firm plans to com­plete con­struc­tion on a new emer­gency room at Aria’s Frank­ford Cam­pus in about six weeks, ac­cord­ing to pro­ject man­ager Peter D’Ant­o­nio. That pro­ject cost $15 mil­lion.

D’Ant­o­nio and Winslow said that the Tor­res­dale Cam­pus’ neigh­bors will see con­struc­tion vehicles head­ing to­ward and de­part­ing from the site throughout the 18-month pro­ject. But traffic will be busier in the early stages as vehicles re­move de­moli­tion debris and de­liv­er ma­ter­i­als.

Gen­er­ally, trucks will use Knights Road to ac­cess the Wood­haven Road Ex­press­way, which con­nects to In­ter­state 95 and Roosevelt Boulevard (U.S. Route 1), al­though routes may change de­pend­ing on the sources of ma­ter­i­als and des­tin­a­tions of the debris.

Kinslow said that the hos­pit­al has a com­munity ad­vis­ory com­mit­tee that will be in­volved in ad­dress­ing any pub­lic con­cerns about con­struc­tion traffic. ••

Wil­li­am Kenny can be reached at 215-354-3031 or wkenny@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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