Baptist plans for ER expansion

Baptist Memorial Hospital-Union County unveiled plans Tuesday for an expansion that will triple the size of its current emergency department facilities.

Hospital Administrator Walter Grace, along with Sam Lynd, assistant administrator, spoke with the New Albany Board of Aldermen about the expansion plans Tuesday evening.
According to Grace, the project, for which the hospital has budgeted to spend approximately $12 million, would add 20,000 square feet of space to the back of the current facility, to be dedicated to the growth of its emergency department.
“We plan to triple raise the number of exam rooms from seven to 22, effectively tripling the number of rooms,” Grace said.  “The space will also include two full-fledged trauma rooms, where our emergency crews will be able to stabalize severe trauma patients.”
Baptist-Union County is currently a Level 4 trauma facility, the lowest of designations for medical services that deal with trauma patients.  He said, however, that the addition of the trauma rooms will allow emergency crews to at least stabalize patients with a higher level of trauma and prepare them for transport to such facilities as The Med in Memphis, Tenn.
The new addition, Grace said, will be one story and will take up a majority of the space now designated as physician parking.
The addition will also included a dedicated workspace for emergency service employees, separate from the nurses’ and physicians’ workspace.
“This will give them their own space to work on reports or get some rest if they are on call for 24 hours,” Grace said.
In addition, he said, the hospital hopes to purchase a CT scanner for the emergency department.
“We have a CT scanner now, but it would be beneficial to us to have another one inside the emergency department in order to help speed up the treatment process.
Grace said there are several factors that led to the decision to expand, including the hope to speed up wait times for patients.
“Our current average of emergency treatment, from the time a patient walks through the door until the time he leaves, is about two and a half hours,” Grace said.  “Compared to the national average of a wait time of six to eight hours, that’s very good.  But we see about 25,000 emergency room visits right now, which is a huge burden considering the space we’re in.”
Once the structure is finished, Grace said, the emergency department will completely vacate its current location.  He said that discussions were ongoing as to what that space will be used for once it is vacated.  
Another concern is the issue of parking, Grace said, not only while construction is underway, but also after the project is completed.  Because the hospital leases the property it now sits on from the county government, growth beyond the property line is unlikely.
“We’re currently in talks with engineers about what our options are regarding parking,” Grace said.  “Right now, no decisions have been made.”
As a part of the project, plans are being made to place the current utilities, specifically related to electrical supply, underground.
“We would like to put our electrical services underground,” Grace said.  “We’re working with New Albany Light Gas & Water on that issue right now.  One reason is that it will improve the aesthetics of the facility, but also safety concerns are a factor.”
While the hospital is awaiting word from the state on its request of a certificate of need, Grace said he hoped to break ground on the new project in May.

About Chris Elkins

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