Lakeshore Health System Unveils Plans for State-of-the-Art Emergency Department with Redesigned Patient Care Model

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North Ottawa Community Health System launches $2.5 Million “Pulse” Capital Campaign to Fund Emergency Department Project

NOCHS Emergency Department Exterior Rendering

Too many people seek non-emergency care in the ER because they don’t know where else to go. It’s happening nationally and it’s happening here.

Lakeshore-based North Ottawa Community Health System (NOCHS) today announced a $2.5 million capital campaign to fund construction of a 15,500-square-foot project that includes an addition and renovation of its existing Emergency Room.

The project being funded by the “Pulse” capital campaign aims to achieve a triple bottom line:

  • better, more efficient care for true emergencies,
  • improved population health for the community,
  • and provide more affordable care for everyone.

In order to meet these requirements, a new model of care has been designed to reduce repeat and unnecessary visits, thus enabling more efficient care for true emergencies.

“Too many people seek non-emergency care in the ER because they don’t know where else to go,” said Jim Walters, MD, NOCHS Emergency Room physician and campaign co-chair. “It’s happening nationally and it’s happening here, too. That’s why our project aims to do more than simply build a bigger building. We’ve done extensive research to understand how this trend is impacting our local community, and invested significant resources to find a way to reverse it.”

As many as 4,800 of the ER’s 18,000 visits per year have been identified as preventable given proper access to primary care, mental health, or basic needs resources. With annual visits in the NOCHS ER projected to rise as high as 24,000 by 2018 due to population growth and statewide insurance expansion, misuse of the ER will likely also increase.

The new model will support on-site and virtual collaboration with community resources such as mental health agencies and Greater Ottawa County United Way.

“We realize that prompt medical attention is only part of what’s needed for these patients to truly get better. We needed to find a way to walk further with them, beyond discharge. So, our collaborating partners are helping us create an intersection point inside our ER,” said Shelleye Yaklin, NOCHS President and CEO. “Right then and there, a new path is defined and a team of resources engage to ensure underlying issues are addressed.”

The model will also implement new chronic disease management protocols designed in collaboration with local primary care physicians. The protocols, enabled by enhanced technology (e.g. real-time patient record sharing and specially designed educational interventions), will help reduce unnecessary tests and medication variation, as well as assist with compliance after the patient is discharged from the ER.

New pediatric protocols designed in collaboration with the region's pediatric hospital, will ensure up-to-the-minute standardization of care for children, as well as ensure an expedited process, with fewer repeated tests, for cases requiring a transfer to a tertiary facility.

The project will break ground in the fall of this year and open in Spring 2016.

NOCHS will enlist public support for the project through the Pulse capital campaign led by Honorary Chairpersons Gary Verplank and Midge Verplank, as well as co-chairs Tim Parker, Jeff Beswick and Jim Walters, MD.

“We have the privilege of having one of our area’s most respected hospitals right here in our local community,” said Gary Verplank CEO of Shape Corp and Pulse campaign honorary co-chair. “It is our responsibility to ensure that it continues to impact the health of our local residents in a positive and permanent way. This transformational project, with a triple aim objective, demonstrates the kind of stewardship deserving of community support.”

Please visit to for details on the capital campaign and how you can support this community project.

About North Ottawa Community Health System:

Nationally ranked for patient experience by HealthGrades, North Ottawa Community Hospital is part of a full continuum of care including an 84-bed long-term care facility, home health care and durable medical equipment services, retail pharmacy, urgent care center, as well as physician practices in primary care and OB/GYN. It also includes North Ottawa County’s first in-patient hospice facility and longest running community-based hospice program on the lakeshore. NOCHS is among the lakeshore’s major employers with more than 800 employees.

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Kim Bode
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