The new emergency room at Langley Memorial Hospital is busy with doctors, nurses, and patients after opening with little fanfare on Tuesday, May 4.
The long-awaited opening had no ribbon cutting, and no tours by dignitaries in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it immediately began taking patients.
Staff and patients have mentioned the fact that it’s more spacious and has natural light, compared to the often cramped and windowless ER treatment area that served Langley residents from the 1980s through until this spring.
Staff are happy about the switch, said Jason Cook, the hospital’s executive director.
“They’re excited about having a space to provide the right care at the right time,” he said.
The long-awaited ER increases the number of patient treatment bays from 31 to 49, and adds a second trauma bay the one that existed in the old ER.
There is now a separate pediatric waiting area for children, and a new entrance separates walk-in patients from ambulance arrivals.
Finally, there is a dedicated, separate treatment area for patients with mental health and substance abuse needs.
Additional handwashing stations, a decontamination room, and an isolation room reduce the risk of infection.
Within hours of the opening, a few Langley residents were commenting about their experiences at the ER on Facebook.
“My wife just used it tonight for our son’s broken wrist,” wrote Rob Haley. “She said everything was top notch. Good job Langley!”
“We’re so grateful for the early and loyal commitment our donors made to the emergency department construction project,” said Heather Scott, executive director of the Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation. “Thanks to their extraordinary generosity and vision for local health care, the new facility is built with the capacity to deliver the quality of care our residents deserve for today and years to come.”
“Yesterday I was the second person to enter the ER and the first to be admitted,” wrote Doreen Smithson Annala. “Considering it is a hospital, it is very nice, cheerful, open and airy.”
Others were still worried about the potential for long waits at the ER to see a doctor.
The previous ER, on the north side of the hospital, was built in 1986, when visits were around 25,000 per year.
The population of Langley has more than doubled since then, and visits are now up to 44,000 per year.
The provincial government, through Fraser Health, provided $29.32 million towards the project. The Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation contributed $10 million, which includes a $1.5-million contribution from the Langley Memorial Hospital Auxiliary.
The ER project opens on the heels of a new MRI clinic at Langley Memorial which started operating earlier this year. A new Langley Hospice facility is expected to open this fall.