Hospital shows off start of new Emergency Dept.

Scott Swanson

Local residents got an up-close look at Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital’s glistening new Emergency Department – or the beginnings of it – Aug. 3 during an open house hosted by hospital staff and volunteers.

Dozens of area residents turned out in 100-plus-degree temperatures to tour the new facility.

The eight new rooms on display were the prelude to what will eventually be 21 private treatment rooms, which, SLCH CEO Marty Cahill said, will be finished “about February.”

“This space will be a great new addition to the hospital,” he said.

Cahill, Samaritan President/CEO Larry Mullins and members of the hospital staff and the Lebanon Chamber of Commerce crowded into the entrance area to cut a ribbon and officially inaugurate the facility.

Nursing Supervisor Justin Floyd said when construction is complete, the new department will provide more space and efficiency in treating emergency patients.

“The biggest thing is we’re going to be doubling the amount of rooms we have overall and the size of the rooms,” he said. “So we’re going to be able to take care of patients faster, get them treated quicker, and get them where they need to be” in terms of further treatment.

The new facility will include two trauma rooms and three for psychiatric and other patients needing extra security and supervision, Floyd noted. Also, they are all set up identically, which will lessen the need for movement of equipment from one area to another, Floyd said.

He said another priority was that the gurneys in the rooms are comfortable and that there is seating available for family members as patients are treated or wait for it. Every room has a TV, he noted.

The first phase of the project – construction of the hospital’s new Surgery and Same Day Care departments – opened last fall.

Cahill said the new surgical center has gotten good reviews from the 1,000-some patients and their families who have used it since last fall.

Typically, he said, family members stay in one room while the patient is wheeled away for a procedure, then returned to that room.

“They never leave that space as a family member. They sit there and wait, privately, They go to the cafe-teria, then they come back to the same space.

“It’s been very well received. Privacy, the ability to stay there, to have one centralized space for a family member. It’s pretty spectacular.”

Mark Olson of Dorman Construction of Springfield, which is general contractor for the project, said the new building was constructed inside the former surgery department, starting last November.

“We did the whole thing in the rain,” he said. “It was the rainiest winter ever.”

He said he expects Phase 3 to go up faster “because we don’t have to build from the ground up.”

Cahill said the hospital will put the new rooms into use Aug. 14, but will keep the existing Emergency Department rooms operating until after the solar eclipse on Aug. 21.

“We’re anticipating hundreds of thousands of people in the area,” he said. “With that type of numbers of people, we can anticipate that some people are going to need to utilize the emergency room. We want to be sure they can utilize as much space as possible.”

That delays the construction of Phase 3 “a couple of weeks,” he said, but “that’s a short-term loss for us to make sure we can get through serving people here for the eclipse.”

The hospital will be down four emergency rooms during the Phase 3 construction process, he said, but the end result “will be great new addition to the hospital.”

“The existing waiting room is there,” he said, gesturing toward a wall of plywood on one end of the new facility. “We probably have until the end of this year, the beginning of next year when we marry them all together.”

He and Floyd said psychiatric treatment will improve with completion of the expansion.

“Right now, only one room is a psychiatric emergency room,” Floyd said. “The next phase will have three rooms. They will be built better to keep the patient safe, keep the staff safe, and get them the care they need.”

Total project cost is $11 million. The Lebanon Community Hospital Foundation is raising $2 million toward the overall cost. The foundation is close to reaching its $2 million goal; it has about $200,000 still to raise, at which point the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust will close out the campaign with a top-off grant of $150,000.

For more information about making a gift toward the campaign, contact Betty Koehn, foundation director, at (541) 451-7063.

Cahill said privacy was a big consideration in designing the new facility, which includes two carpeted consultation rooms equipped with small couches.

“Every room is a private room now,” he said. “In the old Emergency Department space there’s a curtain between everything. That’s the hospital from 20, 30, 40 years ago.

“When you come in and talk about an intimate issue, you want to make sure you have a private space to be able to do that, to have a conversation with a provider. You come in to get care and you want to be as open and honest as possible. But when you see feet under the curtain, it’s kind of hard to be open and honest.”