Lebanon hospital unveils first phase of $11 million surgery makeover

Scott Swanson

A long column of people packed the hallway leading from Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital’s reception area to its Surgery Department Friday afternoon, Oct. 7, as local residents turned out by the hundreds to see the brand new facility.

“This has been a long time coming,” said Chief Operations Officer Marty Cahill, welcoming the crowd in the new facility.

Visitors numbering in the hundreds toured the 15,000 square-foot expansion at the front of the hospital, talked with staff and enjoyed refreshments.

Cahill said the $11 million, two-phase addition was prompted by demand: Emergency Department visits increased by 8,000, to 22,000, between 2013 and 2015 and in-patient surgeries have tripled during that period, in all categories.

The expansion includes two enlarged state-of-the-art operating suites with the latest technology, including ceiling-mounted monitors and other equipment, along with a separate procedure room that will be used for minor procedures not requiring a full operating room.

A remodel of the current Same Day Surgery unit has created 14 patient-treatment rooms that will be private.

“Patients will be able to stay in the same space with their family members,” Cahill said.

Doctors say the expansion will be a plus for everyone.

“The extra space in the surgical suites will help with our efficiency during surgery, and the private pre-operative rooms will give our patients a comfortable space to wait for their procedures,” said Dr. Vanessa Papalazaros in a handout on the new facility.

Contractors continued to work on the facility Friday as visitors strolled past them through the hallways. Construction on the new Surgery Department started in the summer of 2015. Cahill said the facility is scheduled to be completed by Oct. 18 and a deep clean will occur Oct. 24, after which it will be open for surgery. The entire project is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2017.

Cahill said the next phase will be to renovate and more than double the size of the Emergency Department, taking it “down to the studs.” The number of treatment rooms will be increased from nine to 21, two large trauma rooms will be added, and the renovation will include five fast-track beds on which non-critical patients can be triaged, have lab or X-ray services or minor procedures.

Cahill said that the old surgery facility simply couldn’t accommodate today’s technological advances.

“It would be like a house that was built 25 years ago,” he said. “When you look at today’s operating rooms, they’ve got highly, highly, highly advanced technology.

“The space we had was maxed out in terms of technology. It was not so much the size of the rooms, it was the ability to put in new technology.”

He noted that the new ceiling-mounted equipment in the operating rooms opens up space on the floor.

“We have medical students and residents who need to be in these rooms, to watch what’s going on,” Cahill said. “Now there will be room for them.”

Dr. Daniel Sprague, the hospital’s emergency services director, said the facility will provide “necessary space to care for the community for many years to come.

“We’ll be able to see and care for patients more efficiently, and each patient will have their own room for privacy.”

Richard Triska of Scio, a board member for the hospital’s foundation, was one of the visitors who toured the facility Friday.

“This is quite advanced,” Triska said, as he surveyed one of the new, single-patient Same Day Surgery rooms.

He recalled how he had undergone a procedure years ago in the old facility and was resting in a recovery room, in which multiple patients were separated by curtains.

“The doctor asked me a question and the person on the other side of the curtain answered.”