Big changes are coming to the emergency department at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC -- starting with the front door.
When the new emergency department at the Oakland hospital opens on Jan. 12, the entrance will move to Craft Avenue from its current location near the hospital's main entrance on Halket Street.
Growth at Magee has strained the capacity of the current emergency department, said Lou Baverso, vice president of operations. "The emergency department has grown more than 50 percent over the last couple of years," he said. "To rightsize, we needed to expand to where we are today."
The new space -- an addition onto the existing hospital -- will allow for 22 exam areas, versus 14 in the current emergency department.
The move from Halket Street to Craft Avenue allows for easier access for ambulances from the Boulevard of the Allies, as well as dedicated emergency parking. With the change, the hospital also hopes to reduce traffic at the Halket Street entrance as well as noisy ambulance sirens impacting the residential Oakland neighborhood.
"There's a nice pull-up circle if you're dropping somebody off, there's designated parking for the emergency department where you don't have to pull a ticket and park and it's a much easier access from the Boulevard of the Allies and Forbes Avenue," Mr. Baverso said.
The new emergency department will open at 7 a.m. Jan. 12. Community members interested in getting a sneak peek can attend one of four open houses: Jan. 8 from 9 to 11 a.m., Jan. 9 from noon to 2 p.m. or 5 to 7 p.m. or Jan. 11 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Design improvements include ultrasound capability inside one exam room and another exam room designed to better accommodate sexual assault victims, designed in consultation with Pittsburgh Action Against Rape.
That room, located near the back of the emergency department, is equipped with a shower and a waiting room, to provide privacy for the victim in conversations with police officers, advocates or family members.
Other design features include slip-resistant floors and lower beds to accommodate bariatric and geriatric patients.
Construction on the new emergency department has taken 14 months, following years of planning and discussions.
The hospital tentatively plans to use the space where the emergency department is currently located to expand its outpatient internal medicine services.
Though Magee has a focus on pregnant women and general women's health, the emergency department is open to all genders and all health emergencies.
Correction (updated Jan. 4): This story has been updated to give the precise job title for Lou Baverso.
"It's a full service emergency department akin to any ER," said Joe Suyama, chief of Emergency Services. "It's one of the better kept secrets in the city."
Anya Sostek: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1308.