Health Team

Duke Emergency Room Growing to Ease Overcrowding

Posted March 26, 2007

— If you've ever had to wait a long time in an emergency room, you're not alone. The reason is all the other people you see around you.

Duke University Hospital's Emergency Department was designed in the late 1980s to handle 109 patients a day, but the nurses and doctors there see about 178.

The current facility began dealing with overcrowding just six years after it was completed.

"So, there's a lot of care taking place in the hallway. There's a lack of privacy,” said Jeffrey Doucette, R.N., associate operating officer with Duke Emergency Services. It is, he said, “loud, not designed very well,"

To cope with the problems, Duke is expanding and upgrading, expanding the ED from 54 to 82 beds.

A third of the new facility will open for new patients on April 2. The total project is targeted for completion in December, Doucette said. The expansion will help Duke serve 90,000 patients a year.

It's a state-of-the-art facility with the latest in diagnostic equipment, including a 64-slice CT scanner. There's electronic medical charting in each room, and eight trauma/resuscitation rooms.

Young patients have their own waiting area, treatment rooms and dedicated pediatric staff.

Murals, signs—even tiles in the bathrooms and floor—repeat a Murphy-to-Manteo theme with scenes of the mountains, beaches and ocean critters.

"I think what people will find it is a much more comfortable environment. We certainly have looked to a more family-centered approach to our care," Doucette said.

Rooms are more private and work areas are designed to cut down on noise, but many visitors may be more impressed when they arrive and see free valet parking.

The new Duke Emergency Department is also set up to be an in-house decontamination facility in the case of public exposure to hazardous chemicals or radiation.


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  • North Carolina Native Mar 29, 2007

    it's about time... for this to be such a cutting edge hospital their ER was sorely lacking. it's kind of sad to see such sick people laying on stretchers in the hall for hours on end.

  • Scarecrow Cow Mar 27, 2007

    "I thought it was good that UNC has an urgent care facility in the hospital and they screen patients to see if they go there or actually go to the ER."

    That's a really good idea. If every hospital did that they wouldn't have to build so many new ERs!

  • jeneric43 Mar 27, 2007

    billybob, i also work in major local hospital, and the patiens who are using our ER as urgent care are not majorly "illegals" as you so rudely put it. Do your research first billybob.

  • DurhamDude Mar 27, 2007

    Although, if I thought I was having a heart attack, I would probably go to this new Duke ER with their 64-slice CT scanner. I'm not sure if any of the other ER's have them right in the ER.

  • DurhamDude Mar 27, 2007

    I thought it was good that UNC has an urgent care facility in the hospital and they screen patients to see if they go there or actually go to the ER.

  • momofthree Mar 27, 2007

    A new ER is not going to fix anything long term. I agree with lawman, there will be no ERs soon. I work in a local ER and it is a mess. 7 to 8 hour waits on a daily basis, nurses being stretched too far with too many critical patients and the short-staff issues. I would suggest anyone to avoid the ER unless it is life-threatening. Something is going to have to change! God help us all!

  • Jokers Wild Mar 27, 2007

    I work in a Hospital and see the problem's on a daily basis! I have spoken with Physcian's that all agree the Day of the E.R. will be long gone before to much longer if something does not change! Dont believe it? look at Wake Med opening those freestanding emergency department's! I spoke with the guy in charge of one such facility and Wake Med's Goal in opening those were to keep so much BS traffic out of their main hospital! according to the Census Bureau there are some 46 MILLION people in America without insurance, and its not going to get any better! I hope you find a good Dr. and some damn good insurance before to long, or guess what!

  • Durham-Raleigh Mar 26, 2007

    Ooh boy, another excuse to blame all our problems on illegal immigrants! Yee-haw!

    Funny, we used to blame them on welfare mothers. Now that that excuse is gone, we turn to immigrants. Heaven help us if we "solve" *that* issue before the party in charge in the White House finishes successfully destroying that which is good about America.

    Medical costs and ER usage have been rising for decades, in no small part due to America's refusal to institute a decent and modern health care financing system. There are almost 50m Americans without health insurance -- a far bigger problem than immigration, IMHO.

  • TriangleMommy Mar 26, 2007

    I'll believe it when I see it (and hopefully I won't be back there with my daughter anytime soon!)
    If people would only use an urgent care center instead of the Emergency Room for every minor thing - there wouldn't be as long of a wait.

  • BR549-ssdd Mar 26, 2007

    having to wait in the Emergency room is basically due to the fact that all of the illegal aliens are using it as a fee medical clinic at taxpayers expense..