Beaufort Memorial Hospital is moving its emergency room this morning and is trying to make the changes as easy to understand as possible.
For eight months, emergency treatment will be in the former transitional-care unit, which can be reached through the Cochrane Heart Center entrance of the hospital at 955 Ribaut Road. The emergency department is being expanded from 9,500 square feet to 20,500 square feet. Work is expected to be completed in November or December.
"In an emergency, when people are anxious and nervous, they will go to where they are familiar," ER director Kevin Kremer said. "So we're trying to make it clear."
The move is part of a $14.5 million renovation project that will bring the ER up to 26 private treatment rooms, including two trauma rooms, a decontamination room, and a results waiting-area, according to a news release.
The ER treated 40,000 patients last year, twice as many as it was designed to handle. The current ER has 17 beds while the temporary one will have 21, some of which share a room.
Non-essential equipment and supplies were moved earlier this week. The transfer of patients and other equipment will start at about 7 a.m., and Kremer hoped to finish by noon. With volunteers and paid staff contributing, he expects about 30 people will help with the transition
Patient rooms tend to be slightly larger and there are a few more beds in the temporary building, but the waiting room for visitors is smaller and parking is limited, Kremer said. Therefore, patients are asked to only bring essential visitors, preferably just one.
"Our focus is going to be on the patient so, if needed, visitors may be asked to step outside, maybe go get a sandwich," he said.
Currently, it takes about 20 seconds to get a patient from the ambulance to a trauma room, Kremer said. In the worst-case scenario, in which the staff would have to wait on the elevator to reach the temporary ER, it might take about 90 seconds, he said.
Because time is critical, a doctor and nurse will be waiting with emergency equipment at the first-floor entrance to provide immediate treatment, he said.
When using the temporary ER: