By KEVIN CHIRI
Tammany West news
COVINGTON – Teaching pro-active personal care and creating a healthier country are the long term goals for our nation’s new mandated health care plan for all Americans.
But until that happens, health care providers in St. Tammany Parish continue to do what is required so the current needs of residents are being met.
That is the reason St. Tammany Parish Hospital is in the midst of its $21 million expansion of its emergency department and private rooms, with the completion of Phase I this past week as a shiny new, state-of-the-art ED opened to the public.
Director of Nursing Teresa Krutzfeldt led a media tour of the new ED only days before it became operational, showing off 10 new beds that included separate rooms and waiting areas for pediatric patients.
“We’re very excited to open our new ED since it will improve our efficiency in helping patients,” Krutzfeldt said.
Research has shown the need for more emergency rooms in the region and the uptick in care was seen by St. Tammany Hospital with a 7 percent increase in patients during the first seven months of 2014. However, even with the ongoing construction of the new ED, the hospital saw its patient satisfaction scores improve since the expansion began late in 2013.
With a new emergency department walk-in and patient drop-off area now open on the east side of the hospital, patients needing those services will see four large trauma rooms that include big supply storage areas to allow nurses and physicians quick access to anything they need.
“The storage space is five times what the old ED rooms were,” Krutzfeldt said. “All the supplies will be set up exactly the same in all the rooms so nurses always know exactly where to find things, no matter which room they are in.”
There is a lift on the ceiling for obese patients and digital computers next to all beds so doctors don’t need to go back to the main desk to check records.
One special feature of the new ED is separate pediatric beds, now giving the hospital a total of 30 emergency service beds, with five of them specifically for children.
The hospital expansion will take a total of two-and-a-half years to complete due to the challenging approach of construction that requires the hospital to remain operational.
“It’s the most difficult and challenging project I’ve ever worked on,” said Senior Vice President Keith Barre with Fauntleroy, Latham, Weldon Barre Architects. “It’s so much more complicated since we have to keep certain areas open while we are building something new. We had to build around the existing ED, even while they were still open.”
Not only is the expansion adding room to the ED, but it will also create a new all-private room unit located in the 3-North section of the hospital. That unit will be built on the third floor of the hospital and add 21 private rooms, however, the expansion of the ED will cost 11 beds, giving STPH a net gain of 10 beds. The entire hospital will then have 232 licensed beds.
Included with the ED upgrade is a separate contamination room that has access from outside directly to the treatment area. Separate drainage lines are all part of the contamination room in the event a patient comes in with any toxic material on them that needs to be removed. Krutzfeldt said the ED staff used to have a tent outside to decontaminate a patient.
The entire project is expected to finish in the fall of 2016. St. Tammany Hospital had been renovated or expanded 10 times since it was opened in 1954.
, Barre said.