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With ER renovations, Wesley’s $17.6M construction project is halfway done

ER Room Wesley.jpg
Rose Conlon
The renovations will make 16 new treatment rooms available.

Wesley Medical Center will welcome patients to its new emergency department lobby this week. The hospital’s renovation project is expected to be completed next year.

Wesley Medical Center announced the completion of several renovations to its emergency department including a new lobby, a treatment area for less critical patients and a corridor connecting the department to Wesley Children’s Hospital.

The progress is part of a $17.6 million renovation project scheduled to be completed in November 2023. Construction began last year.

The new waiting room will feature security enhancements like a metal detector and protective glass around the reception desk. Wesley CEO Bill Voloch said staff will welcome new patients to the room starting tomorrow.

“We’re only about halfway done with construction,” he said, “but the most difficult pieces are now complete.”

Voloch said the changes will make 16 new treatment rooms available starting this week, which will cut down on the time patients spend waiting to be seen. While under renovation, the hospital converted some ER treatment rooms into a waiting area.

“People are busy. They don’t want to be in the ER,” he said. “We want to get them in and out of here and back to their lives as quickly as we can and as safely as we can.”

He said the hospital’s overhauled eight-bed Ready Care area — for patients too sick for urgent care but who don’t need the highest level of emergency care — will also reduce wait times.

The new waiting room will include security enhancements like protective glass and a metal detector.
Rose Conlon
The new waiting room will include security enhancements like protective glass and a metal detector.

The renovations include a new corridor connecting the emergency department to Wesley Children’s Hospital that will eliminate the need to walk through the ER, said Wesley spokesperson Dave Stewart.

“This is going to enhance safety,” he said.

Dr. Chris Cassidy, medical director of Wesley’s emergency department, recognized staff who have been working during the renovation.

“As you can imagine, working in an ER during construction is more than a little challenging,” he said. “But if you put on top of that the looming post-COVID culture, influenza surges, staffing shortages, the great resignation, it’s another level of challenge.”

He said the new investments will allow providers to care for patients more safely.

The next phase of the construction project will include renovations to treatment rooms and trauma bays.

The announcement comes as area hospitals contend with a surge of respiratory virus infections including the flu, RSV and COVID-19.

On Monday Wesley enacted new visitation restrictions aimed at reducing the spread. Patients are limited to two visitors at a time, and visitors under 12 years old are prohibited. Ascension Via Christi recently announced similar a similar policy for its Wichita hospitals.

Rose Conlon is a reporter based at KMUW in Wichita, but serves as part of the Kansas News Service, a partnership of public radio stations across Kansas. She covers health, the social determinants of health and their connection to public policy.