This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.
American health care is the most expensive in the world. That’s not entirely a bad thing: We sometimes get a whole lot for the money.
MultiCare’s new $72 million emergency department, which opens today, is a good example. At 73,500 square feet, it is 10 times larger than the department it replaces and will transform the way patients are treated when rushed to Tacoma General and Mary Bridge hospitals.
The old department was created in 1992 – not so long ago, in the scheme of things – but a surge in patients and multiple revolutions in urgent care had left it looking downright primitive. And crowded: Designed for 32,000 visits a year, it reached 74,000 last year. Exam rooms were too few and too small. Non-urgent patients often had long waits in the cramped waiting room before they got seen; once through the doors, they and their doctors often wound up in the hallway.
The staff of 50 had only a single restroom, shared by male and female alike. Their lounge had been taken away, turned into a patient room. When blood spurted and hearts faltered, equipment and supplies had to be rushed from one room to another. It wasn’t exactly a sweatshop, but harried doctors and nurses couldn’t be blamed for wanting something better.
Read more »