The new and expanded Tobey Hospital emergency room is a beautiful 30,000-square-foot space with a patient-centered design that features innovative workflows, thoughtful amenities and privacy options, and a maritime-influenced, open design that feels welcoming and supportive for those in need of ER services as well as the medical and emergency staff who work there.

It is a big step forward over the previous ER which served about 30,000 visitors annually despite being designed to accommodate 15,000. The new space can handle 40,000 or more patients a year with an anticipated average ER stay duration of three hours, according to Southcoast Health.

The ER officially opened for treatment on May 25. The project had experienced several COVID-related delays since its ground-breaking in fall of 2019.

It is now four times its former size with 21 private exam rooms, plus additional hallway spaces to handle overflow. Southcoast directly addressed the broader problem of patients forced to wait in hallways in overcrowded ERs by creating cutout spaces fit to hold wheeled gurneys. Curtains can be drawn for privacy and the smart glass windows can be made opaque with the touch of a button for additional privacy.

“We realize patients really do want privacy when they come in,” said Michele Wakeman, Southcoast Health associate chief nursing officer and site administrator, about the privacy options.

The ER has two state-of-the-art trauma rooms with movable equipment to allow for additional patients when needed. It also has negative pressure rooms, used to isolate patients with contagious, airborne diseases such as COVID-19.

A designated ambulance entry includes a decontamination area and a comfortable lounge for emergency personnel. The ER also has a private family room should families need a gathering place.

Workflow improvements include wall-mounted computers in exams rooms that mean nurses no longer have to wheel laptops from room to room. Medications are stocked in designated carts and filled from a secure space where inventory is digitally-tracked and refills automatically ordered.

The ER was designed in a modern motif that incorporates photographs and artwork from local artists in a theme of browns and blues and greens that pay homage to the local maritime setting and the Wareham River which is within view of the hospital.

A small café-like space has a counter where drinks and light fare will be available. Nearby seating is warmed by an electric fireplace and is lit by multiple small bulbs hanging from a high ceiling. The décor includes a wall dedicated to a timeline of key moments in Tobey Hospital’s history.