A new emergency department at St. Charles Parish Hospital should be usable by early March of next year if construction continues as planned.
Quinn Landry, director of marketing at the hospital, said that the new facility will be a major upgrade from the current emergency room.
"Itís got so many different things to offer," Landry said.
The new department will have many new features as compared to the previous emergency room at the hospital.
Family members will have larger waiting rooms and wait times will probably be shorter because there will twice as many patient rooms and more efficient work spaces for employees.
There will be 15 patient rooms and additional treatment areas that offer more space than the current rooms, including four rooms for patients requiring a visit less than 30 minutes, seven rooms for patients with acute injuries, two trauma rooms and five behavioral health beds.
Not only will there be more rooms, but those rooms will also allow for more patient privacy than the previous facility.
"Weíre going to have so much more room," Landry said.
There will also be a hazardous materials area, which the hospital has never had before.
Wider hallways will provide space for many extra patient beds in the case of a major catastrophe and new technology will provide expanded services for customers.
Landry said that the hazardous materials area is a very important addition since there are so many chemical and industrial plants in St. Charles.
The new building is using design concepts and processes as recommended by the Health Care Advisory Board in Washington D.C.
The hospitalís administration also visited several hospitals throughout the country when planning the new facility and enlisted help from Joe Guavisco, head of emergency medicine at Oschner.
Last year, more than 11,700 people visited the St. Charles emergency room, with a large percentage of them coming from within the parish.
Because of the size of the current emergency room, Landry said that the average wait time is around 30 minutes, but can stretch to an hour or an hour and a half depending on the circumstances. Because of those wait times, the hospital says that 4 percent of its registered patients leave before seeing a doctor.
According to the Health Care Advisory Board, demand for emergency care has surged over the past decade while the total number of emergency departments in the United States has declined.
Thatís mainly due to hospital closures and mergers.
Southern Louisiana has been hit particularly hard by hospital closures in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The rising number of uninsured citizens across the country, as well as the dwindling number of psych units, could also play a big part in the increased visits emergency rooms are currently experiencing.