Covenant Medical Center has announced plans for a new emergency department. We at Allen Hospital support this news. It's important to the Cedar Valley, and we all will be better off when their new department opens.
Like Covenant, Allen cares for 30,000 people a year in our emergency department. The Allen emergency department is literally the front door to the hospital for the majority of our inpatients, and it's vital for tens of thousands of emergency outpatients. A quality emergency department often means the difference between life and death for people who are critically injured or ill. With stakes that high, patients, families and medical staff in the Cedar Valley deserve the best facilities we can provide.
Allen has been where Covenant is now. We too spent many years caring for emergency patients in a facility that had grown too old and small for the job. We knew we could do better, but we couldn't do it alone. So we asked the community for help. More than 1,400 people responded, including 675 Allen employees. With their help, we opened our new emergency department and heart and vascular center in March 2009. The difference has been amazing.
Our waiting times have decreased, our average length of stay for emergency patients continues to go down and our patient satisfaction scores keep moving up. Those may seem like impersonal metrics, but here's what they mean. We are providing better, faster care, and nothing matters more to emergency patients who are suffering and families who are frightened.
Covenant can do the same. Allen and Covenant both serve 10 counties and 275,000 people. We both work with smaller rural hospitals and larger urban medical centers. The services we share most often are emergency services. No hospital of any size can be in the right place at the right time to provide the right emergency care to everyone. But working together, we all get closer to that goal. Cedar Valley hospitals provide a network of emergency services. The network works best when all providers have quality facilities to serve their patients' needs.
We at Allen urge the community to support Covenant's plans for a new emergency department. Providing great medical care is one of our community's great strengths. When Covenant improves, the Cedar Valley grows. That's good for everyone.