New $12 million Baptist emergency department construction on schedule

Emergency room construction

Hospital staff and construction workers walk from the new patient loading and unloading area.

Baptist Memorial Hospital’s new $12 million emergency department is on schedule for its projected July 18 ribbon-cutting, according to Michael Barney, assistant project manager for Flintco, the general contractor. He added his company should be out of the building in June and then the furnishings and technical equipment will be installed.
While the ribbon-cutting is set for 10 a.m. that Friday, July 18, the facility will be open to the public afterward. “We want people to see it before it is in use,” Heather Reid, emergency department nurse manager said. Guided tours will be available, she added.
The new ER will go into service at 6 a.m. the following Monday, July 21, at 6 a.m. “The patients already in the old emergency room will continue their treatment from there until they are released,” Reid said. Any patient who goes to the ER at 6:01 will be treated in the new building.
One obvious benefit of the new department is size. It will have nearly triple the number of patient treatment rooms. Also, when a patient enters the building, he or she will be met by a nurse at the front desk who will immediately assess the level of the patient’s need. Less severe cases will go to one of the front rooms and probably be treated by a nurse practitioner. More serious cases will go to the next level of rooms and be seen by a physician while most serious will go to one of the trauma rooms. Everyone will go immediately to one of the rooms rather than wait in the lobby, and admission will be handled in the rooms.
Patient rooms are ringed around a central oblong core with nurses’ stations at each end. In the middle between the nurses’ stations will be administrative space but also a pharmacy just for the ER.
“Eighty percent of the mediation normally used in the hospital will be stored there,” Randy White, chief nursing officer said. Patient information, lab samples and, if needed, requests for unusual medication will be sent by pneumatic tubes from the ER to the main hospital – a process similar to what banks and some stores use. “This will really speed up treatment,” White said.
The patient area will have consulting rooms and a room designated for patients who are waiting on lab test results, where they can recline if necessary. More restrooms will be located near the patient rooms, compared to the present ER’s only one. This will help with convenience as privacy, Reid said.
Two large rooms are designed for trauma cases but X-rays can be taken in any of the rooms without having to move the patient because carrier placement is built in and a reading station for the cassettes will be situated at the nurses’ station.
A new five-bay ambulance garage is near the new building, replacing the current situation in which only two can be parked inside and one under the ER canopy, White said. The department does have some staff working 24-hour shifts and they will now have sleeping quarters and their own space, as well as there being better space for the physicians when not actively on duty.
A new decontamination room will be directly accessible from outside near the ambulance entrance, replacing a more improvised way it has to be done now.
The new 64-slice CT scanner will have a permanent home in the new ER, although the hospital’s other scanner will remain in the radiology department.
Staff members predict the new department will work well. “We worked on these plans for 14 to 16 months before ground was broken,” Reid said.
Administrator Walter Graces said from the beginning that the construction schedule was ambitious but that he had no doubt it could be met.
“The winter was tough,” Barney said. “It did slow us down some, but we are getting it done.”
“There was nothing big, no game-changers,” he added.
“It’s been fun to watch,” White said.
“This will certainly be our best (ER) in terms of new technology,” Robbie Sills, assistant director of facilities for Baptist Memorial Health Care Corp., said. “The size is very generous compared to our other hospitals this size.”
Residents will have to get used to entering the ER from Oxford Road, by way of Coulter, Renasant Drive or Oxford Road itself, but several lighted signs will be placed to help provide guidance. Also, the new ER parking lot will have space for about 25 cars, in contrast to the only handful currently available.
Work was begun this past June with a then-projected completion date of August this year.