TLC in the ED

The newly expanded and upgraded emergency department has been designed with the patient's experience in mind.

Clara Maass Medical Center Renovated Emergency Department

A visit to the Emergency Department (ED) is probably not the best day of a person’s life. At Clara Maass Medical Center (CMMC), however, emergency medicine specialists are determined to make every visit a calm, efficient and welcoming one.

In July, a comprehensive ED renovation and expansion was marked by the ribbon-cutting for a grand, welcoming new entrance and new pediatric and adult reception areas. The overall expansion of the ED includes an adult observation unit with 24 beds; a separate pediatrics area with 10 new treatment rooms; and a discharge area where patients can stay while waiting for further instructions or for transportation. There is also a new consultation room for private conversations with a nurse or physician for patients and their families.

“In the past 20 years, the number of ill and injured patients we see has more than tripled, to about 80,000 patients a year,” says John Fontanetta, MD, Chair of Emergency Medicine. “That in itself created a need for expansion and renovation.

“But these changes are about more than that. We want our patients to feel comfortable that they are receiving the best possible care, and the whole experience, from the time they walk in the door, contributes to that.”

“It’s about how we would want to be treated if we were patients,” says Wilfredo Yap, Jr., MSN, RN-BC, NEA-BC, Director of the ED. “It’s about pride—in our hospital and in the community we serve.”

First nurse

At the CMMC ED, patients are welcomed by the triage nurse, who is the first nurse a patient will see. “This nurse will welcome the patient and use his or her training to quickly assess the person’s condition and direct them to the next level of care,” explains Bonnie Geissler, MHA, RN, Chief Nursing Officer and Vice President of Patient Care Services. “Compassionate and expert care is the first priority.”

Reception areas have been designed to be serene environments with windows that look out on soothing scenery. There’s comfortable seating with charging for mobile devices, but staff at CMMC are determined that incoming patients will not spend much time in those areas. “Our goal is to always provide the highest level of quality care, with attention to our patients’ needs,” Geissler says.

The pediatric reception area, with its colorful undersea motif, is an engaging area designed with children’s needs in mind. “Because our community is made up of many young families, we are committed to providing the best-in-class pediatric care,” says Dr. Fontanetta.

For adults, the expanded observation unit that opened last fall allows sophisticated diagnostic testing to take place while physicians assess whether a patient needs to be admitted for a hospital stay or can safely go home. In addition, the new construction allows behavioral and substance abuse specialists to be available for timely services as patients need them.

Building bridges

The ED team at CMMC is proud of the medical center’s national recognition for its safety and quality. In the spring, CMMC received its 12th A Safety Grade from the independent Leapfrog Group.

The team takes pride, too, in its connection to the community. “We reach out to various groups, particularly the faith-based and Latino communities, to patients and families, and to everyone who needs our services,” says Yap. “We feel it’s our duty to provide the best possible care, with understanding of what a patient is going through,”

Yap says. “Our mission is to provide healthcare with the patient at the center of it.”

To learn more about emergency services at Clara Maass Medical Center, click here.

Clara Maass Medical Center Emergency Department
Clockwise from top left, well-wishers turned out for the official grand opening in July; Rev. Peter Iwuala, Volunteer Chaplain at Clara Maass Medical Center, gave the invocation and offered a blessing for the new Emergency Department at the grand opening celebration; John Fontanetta, MD, Chair of Emergency Medicine, spoke at the opening. Bottom left, Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr., Essex County Executive, Mary Ellen Clyne, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer, Clara Maass Medical Center, Robert Gaccione, Esq., Chairman, Clara Maass Medical Center Board of Trustees, and Thomas A. Biga, President, Hospital Division, RWJBarnabas Health, at the event.