Beaufort residents can get a sneak peek at the emergency center at Beaufort Memorial Hospital this weekend, before it opens in early 2013.
The George N. Pratt and Sarah Meyer Pratt Emergency Center's expansion is part of a $14.5-million renovation that more than doubled the size of the hospital's ER facilities. Because of construction, the ER was temporarily relocated in April to what once was the transitional-care unit attached to the Cochrane Heart Center.
"What the hospital is really excited about is the staff will be able to provide a better experience for the patients and family members and friends," hospital president and CEO Rick Toomey said. "... All of our design elements try to keep the focus on the patient."
The center is named for the parents of Dr. Bruce Pratt, a retired veterinarian, who donated $1.5 million in 2009 to the BMH Foundation in their honor. George and Sarah Pratt were involved in the hospital's early development more than 65 years ago.
About 40,000 patients visited the ER last year, although it was designed to handle half as many, according to the hospital. The new center could accommodate about 50,000 in a year.
The center is going from 9,500 square feet to 20,500 square feet and from 17 beds to 24 private-treatment rooms. It also will include two trauma rooms that can each handle one to four patients. The reception room is being expanded, and an outdoor patio with fans was added. Triage space and a treatment area for patients with minor ailments and injuries have been added.
Hospital employees have donated $1 million to the project, and a private family consultation room will be dedicated in their honor. In the past, staff used part of their break room as a semi-private area to speak with families, emergency department director Kevin Kremer said.
"When you have to break hard news to a loved one, you want a quiet, controlled place where the family can discuss what is happening and can express their feelings," he said.
Kremer said the new emergency department is intended to make visits more comfortable and efficient for everyone. He hopes those who walk in with minor ailments can get in and out of the center quickly.
Design input was solicited and included from all levels of staff members who work with the ER, Kremer said. One example is a wall that juts out into treatment rooms slightly so nurses can dock computers and take notes while still facing patients. Another is closets that open to both rooms and hallways, so linens can be emptied with minimal disturbance to patients.
The renovation also added space for future intensive care unit expansion and allowed an infrastructure upgrade, said plant services director Marion Moody, who oversaw the construction.
A final S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Controls inspection is needed before the emergency center opens, he said. Moody anticipates an early January opening, and said it will take about three or four hours to transfer patients and the final pieces of equipment from the temporary ER.