Cards sent to the emergency room nurses in Langley at the start of COVID-19. (Special to The Star)

Cards sent to the emergency room nurses in Langley at the start of COVID-19. (Special to The Star)

Langley ER nurses welcome arrival of new care space

Bright natural lights, new equipment delight hospital’s emergency room staff

It’s been a four-year-long journey for clinical care coordinator Hilary Vandergugten, but the fruits of hard work and labour have paid off with the opening of Langley Memorial Hospital’s brand new emergency room.

As the project manager, Vandergugten said she was in charge of many aspects from clinical equipment buying to layout setup.

“I know it inside out and backwards,” she laughed.

Originally announced back in 2017, construction began in the summer of 2019 – funded by $29 million from the provincial government and more than $15 million from the Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation.

The new MRI suite installation was also part of the expansion, which opened at the tail end of 2020.

Vandergugten explained that the new ER features a new patient intake area that ensures rapid assessment and allows for a more patient focused approach, which is different from the previous emergency.

“They’ll be five different zones, so Zone 1 will be the most acute situations like a heart attack, Zone 2 will be more internal or gastronomical issues like abdominal pain, Zone 3 is your lumps and bumps, 4 is pediatrics, and Zone 5 will be for mental health,” she explained.

Those seeking emergency medical attention will therefore check in and be streamlined to a subsequent zone.

“The goal of our emergency is about continuing that patient flow,” he said.

The emergency department model of care is a new concept for Fraser Health – designed with patient care and safety in mind.

Langley Memorial’s new ER is the first in its health region to be purposely built for this function.

“This way, your put in areas with the same people, which will not only help pinpoint care, but alleviate stress and anxiety from seeing others get prioritized,” Vandergugten said.

She particularly noted that mental health accounts for 16 to 20 per cent of all ER visits – more than justifying a safe space for care that can help with emergencies that may not be imminently visible.

Included in the 30,000 square foot complex is an incorporation of more natural light to, not only help those waiting have a more comfortable experience, but make the environment more positive for staff.

“There’s no natural light in old, old ER, but the corridors between the old part of the hospital and new the ER is just lit with natural light,” Vandergugten explained.

The improvements took the breath away of her staff, who, when recently toured through for the first time, could hardly keep focused. There was too much awe-struck emotion to take them through the entire setup.

One of the nurses, Elizabeth C., recalled being struck by the open space and the brightness streaming through the windows.

“It all looks so new. A new department with new equipment and updated surroundings means I can provide patient care in a better environment – hopefully improving their health care experience,” she said.

Deb Nordeman noted that larger, properly partitioned rooms will increase the staff’s ability to control the spread of infection and deliver care that is confidential.

Jen Neuwman simply said she loved that it just looks so fabulous.

Vandergugten herself is very excited for the new ER to open to the public – set to occur in early May.

“I was born in this hospital and spent the past 25 years of my nursing career here,” she said, noting that essential space is far more than just a new building.

It’s unanimous, Vandergugten said, the ER nurses are elated with the new digs and anxious to get in there caring for their patients.

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