Chestnut Hill Hospital staff celebrate completion of new emergency department

The approximate 3,000 Northwest Philadelphia and Eastern Montgomery County residents who visit Chestnut Hill Hospital’s Emergency Department every month will notice something completely different during their next visit – it’s completely new.

After two years of construction the hospital recently cut the ribbon on a $40 million wing that features a state-of-the-art emergency room, intensive care unit and operating rooms.

Hospital patrons, staff and elected officials gathered over hors d’oeuvres, wine, and seasonal beer as administrators toasted the completed addition.

“This expansion will allow us to continue to do what Chestnut Hill Hospital does best: treat the afflicted and alleviate the suffering,” said Dr. John Scanlon, the hospital’s chief medical officer. “Miracles will happen here. I’m confident our best days are ahead of us.”

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The three-story building contains a 22-bed ER, 14-bed ICU and four operating roooms.

Rooms inside the ER are more private and about the twice the size of the existing rooms. The ICU is outfitted with advanced imaging technology used for minimally invasive surgeries.

One of the hospital’s doctors, Dr. Michael Cavanaugh, said these new amenities will help facilitate better patient care.

“It’s all about the community, they’re the ones who really benefit from this,” said Cavanaugh. “Before, our ICU was set up to handle larger patient volumes than it was designed for. Now, this new building allows us to accommodate that high rate of patients while continuing to provide excellent care and service.”

That excellent care and service is what makes the hospital the only one in Philadelphia to be recognized as a “Top Performer” in Key Quality Measures two years in a row by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. Those accolades and the new emergency department have hospital CEO Dr. John Cacciamani optimistic about the future.

“This new building will only add to our reputation that is already ranked in the top four percent by the Joint Commission,” Cacciamani told the crowd. “The future of healthcare is in this combination of medicine, business, and treatment and this is what these facilities allow us to do here.”

Many hospital staff members shared Cacciamani’s exuberance. For them, the ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the end of a tumultuous seven-year period when the future of the hospital was in question.

In 2005, amid financial difficulties, the hospital’s board of trustees agreed to be purchased by a joint-venture that included University of Pennsylvania Health System and Community Health Systems, a Tennessee-based Fortune 500 Company. As a condition of the $68 million deal, Community Health Systems agreed to rebuild the hospital’s emergency wing and ICU.

Dr.Vicki Lachman, chairwomen of CHH’s Board of Trustees, said she regards the new addition as one of her crowning achievements and decided to use the ceremony to officially retire after 15 years at her position.

In the final address to her peers, Lachman said she couldn’t be more proud to see this vision finally come to fruition.

“These past seven years, Community Health Systems have given us much, but today we open their largest gift,” said Lachman

The hospital’s new emergency deparment will start receiving patients on Monday.

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