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Yale New Haven Hospital to temporarily expand emergency room to parking lot

Due to unprecedented patient demand and volume at Yale New Haven Hospital, the leadership said it needs to expand care capabilities quickly.

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — With COVID-19 and flu cases forecast to rise through the winter, Yale New Haven Hospital has been approved to temporarily increase its patient care capacity by building an overflow emergency room in a place you might not expect.

The Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital driveway, leading up to the main entrance, will soon feature hospital beds instead of cars.

Due to unprecedented patient demand and volume at Yale New Haven Hospital, the leadership said it needs to expand care capabilities quickly.

"Because over the last 22 or so months of the COVID pandemic a lot of our community delayed patient care," said Michael Holmes, the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Yale New Haven Hospital.

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The delay in care caused more challenges for the patient medically.

"They are sicker, they have a higher acuity, and they stay longer because some of them have delayed care," Holmes added.

The driveway/turnaround area outside the YNH Children's Hospital's main entrance is one of five spots - across the hospital system's two New Haven campuses, in which they are looking to expand patient care temporarily. But it is not just COVID-related.

"Today we only have about 4.5% of our total census that’s COVID," Holmes said. "That compares to about 27% in April 2020."

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So this temporary expansion is largely a just-in-case approach.

"Our original thought, on this particular area (turn around driveway) is it would be an overflow for our emergency department," said Holmes.

The goal is to prevent people from backing up in the ER waiting rooms and hallways.

"This particular area is the only one where we are actually doing construction and being a little more innovative to create space," Holmes said, noting the other areas targeted will be inside the hospital.

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They expect to have this turnaround driveway transformed and operational by mid-January "and be in use probably until June 1, somewhere around a six-month timeframe that we would use all five of the areas that we are looking to expand," the COO said.

Tony Terzi is a reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at tterzi@fox61.com. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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