Last month, I got to visit Evergreen as a patient. This month, I got to poke around the place for fun and education. Thanks to Sherry in the marketing department, my intrepid companion and I got to attach ourselves to a tour group who were there for professional reasons, rather than mere curiosity.
I didn't feel comfortable whipping out the camera like a raw tourist - I mean, we're talking about the ER, where people aren't exactly living the sort of memories they'll want to relive later - but let's see if I can get you inside anyway. Picture yourselves in a comfortable waiting area with hardwood floors, nice chairs, and an artistic display of ceramic teapots. Just don't picture yourselves there for long. Evergreen built one of the prettiest waiting areas I've ever seen in a hospital, but people don't get to use it all that much. They're whisked back to exam rooms too quickly. While we waited for the rest of the group to arrive, we got to watch the average length of time people spent in the waiting room. It seems to be around 2.2 seconds.
Should you have to go, you'll be met by helpful people who don't even let you have a full, frantic look around for where you should go before they're meeting you, asking what you need, and getting you into a small, glassed-in room where your temp's taken, an ID bracelet slapped on your wrist, and then zipped back to a room. They say Sunday's their busiest day, so I may have to spend an afternoon in that waiting room just to see how much time that adds. The way their system's set up, I doubt a crowd ever builds up in there.
So what's beyond Triage? So glad you asked. There are rooms designed to function well for all involved - patients, medical staff, and visitors. Most rooms are semi-private - you don't get ogled by every passer-by, but you're within whimpering distance of helpful staff members. You don't have to stare at a lot of scary medical equipment. The bottles of gas (like oxygen) are tastefully concealed behind a painting at the head of the bed. Extraneous medical equipment's kept to a minimum by carts: suture cart, pelvic exam cart, etc. The proper cart's rolled in instead of having huge banks of equipment stuffed in cabinets. All very tidy, and leaves plenty of room for folks. Your medical staff gets one half of the room - the one with the counter space and monitor. Your visitors get the other, where coats and things can be hung. You get enthroned in the middle.
Things are laid out in a sort of triangle, with everything simple to get to, and the staff in the center where they can keep an eye on everybody as they work. But if you're needing some serious solitude, there are special rooms for that, where all equipment is behind rollaway doors. These are the rooms for the folks having a severe psychiatric episode, or the roaring drunk, where they can be watched carefully over monitors. The windows of those rooms don't face out into the busy main areas, which strikes me as a good idea. It gives people there a sense of connection to the outside world - there is, after all, a window instead of blank walls - but doesn't give them views of things that might make them more excitable. I've seen a fair few psychiatric setups, what with a mother who has bipolar disorder, and these are among the best.
We didn't, alas, get to see the trauma rooms this visit, but we got to go play in the decontamination showers. They're in a room accessible from the outside. Five you of can shower up at once before heading in to the hospital. For some reason, the adjustable temp on the showers amused me. I doubt I'll be worried about the shower being too cold if I'm ever in some unfortunate circumstance where I'm having to be decontaminated. But at least now I know where I'll be if that day ever comes.
I have to tell you, seeing the ER in its entirety eased a lot of nascent anxiety. If a true emergency ever happens, the ER here is no longer an unknown quantity. Should you get the opportunity, tour your own local hospital. You'll find a lot of very good people working hard to ensure their communities stay healthy.
Evergreen's doing an outstanding job of it. So, you East Side residents - if you live near Kirkland and need excellent care, come on down! You'll be in wonderful hands.
Although you might have to go back to appreciate the waiting room after your emergency's over.