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Emergency task force team key to hospital’s expansion

Pat Patera

The emergency room at Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center admits, on average, 145 people a day.

And amidst the continual onslaught of injury and trauma, it was business as usual even as the emergency ward made its move into the hospital’s new addition.

The smooth transition, says Shelby Hunt, director, emergency services, began three years ago when planning began for the move. An emergency department task force team, eight strong, was given the job of knowing what obstacles might arise.

The construction and remodeling portions would occur in stages. The first phase, with 11 rooms, ended in January when the second phase, with 25 rooms, began.

Now that the move into the new space is complete, phase three begins. The former emergency room space is ready for a complete interior renovation.

But staff dealt with many changes during the transition. The emergency room entrance had to handle arriving inpatients while also serving as the triage center.

To speed movement, says Hunt, the hospital added an emergency medical technician to act as a runner, escorting patients.

Moving the specialized emergency treatment equipment also went smoothly, says Hunt. Biomedical department staff moved the machinery, with help from a moving company for the larger pieces of equipment.

Meanwhile, the wall-mounted cardiac monitors were moved by Space Labs, the manufacturer.

Parking presented the one challenge. “People found it hard to learn not to park at the north canopy but in the parking garage,” says Hunt.

Previously, the emergency room entrance, always open, was also used by people coming for various inpatient procedures.

And, to serve those not wanting to tackle the parking garage, Saint Mary’s added valet parking service at two hospital entrances: the Arlington Avenue entrance and the newly re-opened entrance on the north side of the building.

The project, once finished, will transform the old 35,000-square-foot emergency room facility to more than 60,000 square feet.