Coming Together to Provide Remarkable Care at New Mercy Health Emergency Department in Muskegon

Nurses Amy Panozzo and Jennifer Fornaro

A year ago, Amy Panozzo, RN, and Jennifer Fornaro, RN, didn’t know each other, despite the fact that they are both Emergency Department (ED) nurses for Mercy Health in Muskegon. Panozzo works on the Hackley Campus, and Fornaro works on the Mercy Campus.

“I have been a nurse for 18 years, with 16 of those being in ED,” said Fornaro. “I did not know Amy prior to this consolidation group but am so glad that I do now.”

Panozzo has worked at the Hackley ED for the five years she has been a nurse. “I met Jennifer at the consolidation meetings, and we have worked exceptionally well together,” Panozzo added.

The consolidation they are referring to is the coming together of their two EDs later this month. At that time, the new medical center on the Mercy Campus will fully open, and most of the ED staff from the Hackley Campus will join the ED staff on the Mercy Campus. The trauma team from the Hackley Campus will be the last group to come to the new ED in late 2019.

A stand-alone Emergency Center will remain open on the Hackley Campus at that time for local, walk-in patients.

nurse’s station or “beehive”

In the meantime, later this month, the Fazakerley Family Emergency Center on the Mercy Campus will be open for patients in its brand new facility in the new tower, but will not operate at full capacity until the Medical Center Grand Opening in late 2019. Because both the Hackley and Mercy EDs will still be open, the public is encouraged to continue to go to the Mercy Campus for chest/heart pain and to the Hackley Campus for trauma. Paramedics will continue to assess patients’ needs and take them to the appropriate campus.

Panozzo and Fornaro are excited about what this consolidation will mean for the community.

“It will be nice to have the expertise all in one facility, so patients don’t have to make a decision about which hospital to go to. Everything will be at Mercy Campus. It will be better for patients not to have to be transported to another campus, which can be really hard on our elderly patients,” said Panozzo.

ED exam room

“The new ED will be a great improvement for the community because we have planned this new facility to improve the care of our patients,” said Fornaro in agreement.

Fornaro has been working on the design and consolidation plans for the new ED for about five years. Eight to 10 nurses from the Hackley and Mercy Campuses form this grassroots ED consolidation team and meet monthly.

“Nurses from both hospitals wanted to come together to have a say of how to incorporate the best processes from each campus into the new ED or to develop new ones together,” Panozzo explained.

Team members have found ways to leverage efficiencies by coordinating the processes for choosing supplies, stocking drawers, staffing levels, cleaning rooms and deciding which patients are fast-tracked, to name a few.

“We’ve embraced and welcomed each other’s ideas. We’ve always tried to figure out the best process for the patient,” said Fornaro.

By design, the new, 67-bed facility is organized into pods, each with its own private patient rooms placed around a nurse’s station, med rooms, storage, nourishment rooms and staff of physicians and nurses.

Patients will notice not only each room has a toilet, but the private patient rooms also feature cardiac monitors, making it possible to treat any kind of patient, rather than designating certain rooms for particular patient needs.

Safety for patients is built into the new ED, such as:

  • The latest medical equipment.
  • A CT suite, fluoroscopy and X-ray rooms located next to the department for ease of patient transport.
  • Designated elevators for trauma patients who need to be transported quickly.
  • Nearby surgical suites round out the many design elements that focus on what is best for the patient.

Walk-in patients will also notice improvements. All day, every day, at the front desk, there will be a registered nurse, who will have “eyes on the patients” from the moment they come to the ED.

All Mercy Health ED nurses are certified for trauma through the Trauma Nursing Corporation Curriculum of the Emergency Nurses Association, and they undergo yearly training. When the trauma center moves from the Hackley to Mercy Campus ED in late 2019, the Mercy nurses will be able to put their training to use with hands-on experience and guidance from the Hackley nurses.

Fornaro explains: “Personally, I’m excited to learn from the Hackley nurses because they serve trauma patients, and we do not. Once the consolidation is complete, we’ll have more well-rounded nurses.”

“And we’re excited to learn more about heart and nephrology from the Mercy nurses,” chimed in Panozzo.

Panozzo encourages nursing staff of each department to reach out to their counterparts who work on the other campus and form a nurse-led committee with everyone together. “Get involved. It empowers the staff who will be moving, and together, the committee can work to determine what is best for the patient.”

Fornaro agrees. “We’re all one, with the same goal — placing the needs of the patient first. By coming together, you put aside Mercy vs. Hackley.”

Learn more about Mercy Health’s consolidation in Muskegon.








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