Less than two years after New Hanover Regional Medical Center began planning for a free-standing emergency department in the Porters Neck area, the new facility opened its doors May 20.

PORTERS NECK | Less than two years after New Hanover Regional Medical Center began planning for a free-standing emergency department in the Porters Neck area, the new facility opened its doors May 20.

NHRMC Emergency Department North opened at 7 a.m. after a ribbon cutting at 6:45 a.m.

“We can’t wait to get started,” said Terri DeWeese, ED-North manager.


The building was designed “solely for the comfort, the use, the safety of the patient,” said Jack Barto, NHRMC president and CEO.

The $15.1 million ED-North facility was funded through the hospital’s capital budget.

Each of the 10 patient rooms, which offer visitors’ benches near the patient bed for family and friends, are set up exactly the same for consistency and efficient patient care.

The facility also includes one critical care room, a pharmacy and full lab services.

NHRMC Health and Diagnostics is relocated to the new building and will provide the same outpatient services it has at its Porters Neck location, including CT, X-ray, digital mammography, MRI, bone density, ultrasound and more.

The full-service 24-hour emergency department will be staffed by board-certified emergency physicians, specially trained emergency care nurses and a multi-disciplinary support team. ED-North will serve an estimated 35 to 40 patients every day, which is roughly 10 percent of the number of patients served in emergency departments at the 17th Street and Wrightsville Avenue locations.

Barto said ED-North will probably be able to take care of 95 percent of the patients who come in its doors without having to transport them to the orthopedic hospital or the main campus.

Plans for the facility include a helicopter pad for AirLink VitaLink Critical Care Transport teams to provide emergency air transport. NHRMC EMS teams will continue to provide emergency ground transport.

A soothing light green theme, an abundance of natural light and large windows help bring concepts of nature inside the modern facility. Patient lounges offer patients a place to wait for their results in a room where they can access wifi, charge their phones or look out a floor-to-ceiling window that offers a view of nature.

Patient focus

That view isn’t a coincidence. Nor is all that natural light, the focus on family-centered care or the spacious rooms.

Everything in the facility puts the patient in the central focus points, Barto said.

“That’s the biggest change in health care in the 40 years I’ve been doing it,” Barto said. “We don’t ask what’s easier for us; we ask what’s better for the patient.”

For instance, patients won’t be directed to a waiting room, but instead immediately checked in and screened.

The design process put together groups of physicians, staff members, architects, engineers, support service people, patients and Lean thinkers, a methodology that maximizes customer value while minimizing waste. Barto called the building, designed by BBH Design and constructed by Brasfield & Gorrie, a “triumph of Lean thinking.”

“This really was designed by users: staff and patients,” Barto said to a crowded room of guests who attended a VIP open house Friday afternoon.

He touted the facility as “our first major investment in the northern part – our fastest-growing part – of our county.”

DeWeese said she begged for a chance to get involved in ED-North. She has always had an interest in Lean methodology and wanted to help start from the ground up and bring something to fruition. It’s an opportunity few have, she said, and she’s thrilled to serve as the emergency department manager.

“I just want folks to know that we’re here, and we’re ready,” she said. “We hope people don’t need to come see us, but if they do, we’re ready.”


NHRMC Emergency Department North by the numbers