ST. JOHN’S HEALTH CENTER — Just about everything has to happen quickly in emergency medicine, so perhaps the plan to move the entire St. John’s Health Center ER staff to its new digs in the recently certified Howard Keck Center overnight should come as no surprise.
At 1 a.m. today, doctors and nurses were scheduled to make the transition from their old location at 21st Street and Santa Monica to 1328 22nd St. The move was expected to be completed by 5 a.m. today, at which time the new ER was slated to begin receiving patients via ambulance.
During the four-hour move ambulances were to be diverted to either the Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center or the Ronald Reagan-UCLA Medical Center in Westwood.
By moving in the middle of the night — typically a low-call volume period for emergency responders — the hospital was seeking to minimize the inconvenience, said Greg Harrison, a spokesman for the hospital.
The ER’s new home is in the Howard Keck Center, which is the second piece of a $500 million upgrade for St. John’s that has been 15 years in the making. The other building, the Chan Soon-Shiong Center for Life Sciences, opened in 2005.
Plans for the new hospital, which features state-of-the-art seismic technology, began after the Northridge Earthquake in 1994 damaged the old hospital building, Harrison said.
The new hospital building was certified by the California Department of Health Services last week, Harrison said, and employees started the transition over the weekend.
“Essentially, the emergency department is the last department to be moved,” he said.
The new facility’s opening is especially good news for paramedics and emergency medical technicians who work for the Santa Monica Fire Department, said Jeff Furrows, the department’s paramedic coordinator.
For one thing, the new building has a patient drop-off area for ambulances that is separate from the main entrance, Furrows said, which makes it easier and faster to drop off critically ill patients, he said. There’s also extra ambulance parking — features Harrison said the fire department helped design.
“Over at the old facility, parking is just really a nightmare over there for ambulances trying to deliver patients,” Furrows said.
The new building, he added, is “just going to be a great enhancement over an existing service.”
The emergency room itself is also a step up.
Every bed in the new ER will have access to an EKG machine — something that some beds lacked in the old facility, Furrows said. The better equipment combined with a superior floor plan will make it easier for paramedics to get in and out of the hospital’s emergency care area, he said.
“There’s a national trend where emergency rooms are busier places than ever before,” he said, which puts a premium on efficiency. “I think our patient flows are going to be a whole lot better with this new facility.”