NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — Is there any Hub City institution that’s not expanding these days?
Rutgers University has taken on a number of high-profile projects in recent years, including The Yard at College Avenue and the Honors College building. Several towers are expected to soon crop up downtown, making space for offices, apartments, commercial shops and performance spaces. The public school district has seen a spike in student enrollment, causing officials to add more classrooms.
And now, citing an increased demand for services, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital is expanding its emergency department from 40,000 to 60,000 square feet, according to an announcement from the medical center. When the project is completed, the emergency room will house more than 100 units, including three new trauma bays, for treating patients.
“The diverse communities we serve continue to grow with evolving healthcare needs,” Michael Antoniades, the hospital’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “As an academic medical center and a leader in emergency and trauma care, more people than ever before seek our services. This project will give us the ability to meet this demand now and in the future.”
Indeed, Middlesex County is the second-largest in the state. According to U.S. Census figures, its population has blossomed by roughly 30,000 people from 2010 through 2016. Neighboring Somerset County has also seen steady growth over the past decade.
New Brunswick in particular welcomed an additional 2,500 residents from 2010 through July 2015, according to Census figures. Some local officials have said they expect that trend to continue, at least for the next several years.
So what does that mean for Robert Wood Johnson’s emergency department?
More than 95,000 patients per year, according to the hospital. That breaks down to a rough average of 260 people who receive treatment from the emergency department each day.
The hospital is also one of just three Level I trauma centers in New Jersey. That means Robert Wood Johnson is a “comprehensive regional resource” that offers “total care for every aspect of injury,” according to the American Trauma Society, an industry group.
“As one of only three Level I trauma centers in New Jersey and an emergency department that experiences a high volume of cases annually, our hospital addresses some of the most serious illnesses and accident-related injuries in the state,” Antoniades said.
Work on the emergency department project began on March 6. Hospital officials expect the first phase to be completed by next July.
Renovations will also bring about a new ambulance bay that can park eight vehicles at once; in-department radiology imaging, which is expected to save time spent waiting for results; and a “fast-track” option for patients with “less emergent diagnoses,” according to the hospital.
While the emergency department will function regularly during the project, the work has altered local traffic patterns.
A portion of Little Albany Street, the road that connects Easton Avenue and Somerset Street, is closed to regular traffic through July 2018. Only emergency vehicles may access the area between the emergency room entrance and the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, according to New Brunswick City Hall.
Emergency room visitors may arrive through a drop-off spot at the intersection of Somerset and Little Albany streets.
People going to the cancer institute or the parking deck must use Easton Avenue, according to the city. Somerset Street no longer serves as an access point to those spots.