St. Christopher's Hospital for Children unveiled its bigger, refurbished emergency room today.

The $3 million project was a response to increasing demand, said Christopher Haines, director of the department of emergency medicine.

"It gets us to where we can provide care much more quickly," Haines said of the expanded space.

ER visits to the North Philadelphia hospital increased from about 50,000 six years ago to about 70,000 last year, Haines said.

He does not know why demand is increasing. About one-third of patients are directed to the hospital's urgent-care center, which treats problems that often could have been handled in a primary care doctor's office. Most of the patients have insurance.

The hospital added 14 new private exam rooms and 4,300 square feet. The department now has a total of 17,300 square feet, 36 exam rooms and a trauma bay.

The new emergency room has two rooms earmarked for treating children who are victims of child abuse or sexual assault or need psychiatric evaluations.

Exam rooms have televisions and DVD players. Walls have been painted a soothing green-and-tan and the flooring is simulated hardwood.

The new design places exam rooms closer to the nurses' station.

Haines said he will be hiring more doctors.