Phoenix Children’s Hospital prepares to open new emergency department to accommodate patient growth

PHOENIX – Phoenix Children’s Hospital’s new emergency department greets visitors with a plethora of brightly colored art installations – from plastic flowers that seem to blossom out of the ceiling, to framed Warhol-esque animal caricatures that line the hallways.

But it’s not necessarily the child-friendly feel of the $65.5 million structure that has its employees so excited. It’s the ability to serve more patients – and serve them more quickly.

The hospital will open its new 42,000-square foot emergency department and trauma center on Sept. 20, 2017.

The original emergency department was designed to treat 35,000 children annually, but more than 83,000 patients came through its doors last year alone. The new department can accommodate 100,000 patients each year, according to the hospital.

“This expansion is critical to serving our community,” said Dr. Jon McGreevy, an attending physician in the emergency department. “Phoenix has been a growing population for a number of years and that includes growth in children. We need the space to continue to see more patients.”

The number of people under age 18 in Arizona made up about a quarter of the state’s population in 2016, placing it 16th in terms of youth population among all states, according to a report by the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona.

To serve the growing population, the number of private exam rooms has more than tripled, from 23 rooms to 75. The hospital also has invested in cutting-edge medical equipment, officials said.

“If you look around, everything is an improvement,” said Dr. Anthony Pickett, an attending physician. “Every aspect of this department is improving with this addition to this hospital.”

The physicians said one of the most important features is the proximity to the hospital’s helipad.

“The transport time to when the helicopter lands to when that sick child is in our emergency department has decreased to about a minute,” Pickett said. “Whereas previously, it could be up to 5 very high-stress minutes for a sick child just from when they land to where they can see the health care providers.”

The facility also expanded its emergency waiting room size and roughly holds 80 to 100 seats, almost quadruple the previous facility.

“When we see a patient, you have to remember, you don’t just have the patient,” Pickett said. “You are talking about four to five seats for every patient. Think about the mom, the dad, brothers, sisters – all piled into the waiting room.”

Until the new facility opens on Sept. 20, the current emergency department will continue to serve its purpose.

“When I started here, the emergency department was just a floor, not a whole hospital,” McGreevy said. “I am proud to be a part of a hospital community built just for this.”