KDMC nearing completion of new department

Published 5:00 am Monday, March 16, 2009

Construction crews are putting the finishing touches on King’sDaughters Medical Center’s new emergency department, amulti-million dollar addition to the hospital that officials saywill expand treatment capabilities and have a tremendous impact onBrookhaven’s health care community.

The 19-bed department and its state-of-the-art equipment shouldbe up and running by the end of March, said KDMC Chief DevelopmentOfficer Johnny Rainer. The construction of the department is a bigpart of the hospital’s multi-phase, $12 million upgrade, begun in2007, which saw the opening of an 18-bed Intensive Care Unit lessthan one year ago.

“I think it does expand access to health care for the communityby virtue of the fact the facility itself is much larger and willhave the equipment that’s necessary to treat emergency cases rightthere in the ED,” Rainer said. “When you invest the kind of moneythat we have in health care for the community, you’re basicallyexpanding the capacity of being able to treat people who needemergency medical treatment.”

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Terry Singleton, the hospital’s director for emergency medicalservices, said the new facility would speed up the treatment ofemergency patients.

The 19-bed department features two large, spacious trauma baysand equally-sized cardiac bays that allow a large group ofphysicians and nurses to gather around an emergency patient andbring all their mobile medical equipment to bear on the patient.Like the ICU, the new ED also features built-in medical gashook-ups, eliminating the need to occupy space with oxygen tanksand similar equipment.

The new ED will also be equipped with its own CT scanner and adigital X-ray machine, a decontamination room for patients who mayhave been exposed to dangerous materials, an ear, nose and throatroom for Otolaryngological treatment and a three fast track roomsfor non-emergency care.

“All of our support services will be immediately accessible,”Singleton said. “Hopefully, it will expedite the flow of patientsthrough the emergency room.”

Singleton said physicians and nurses will no longer have totraverse the entire hospital to get patients to supporting servicesonce the new ED is open. Patient and service flow has been an issuewith the old ED and the modular buildings that have housed thetemporary ED since construction began last spring, he said

“There’s no comparison,” Singleton said of the old emergencytreatment area and the new one. “One was 40 years old and one’sjust opening. In the new ED, the design is more conducive to theflow of patients; it’s bigger, clearer, brighter; has more roomsand all the services located in it. It’s kind of like comparing anapple to an orange.”

Singleton said the new ED is “as good as anything in the state;better than most.”

Director of Nursing Merlene Myrick said her staff is itching tomove into the new ED and out of the confines of the modularunits.

“The staff are just beside themselves,” she said. “We have themost excellent staff you could ever want, but they’ve never had aplace this nice to work in.”

Another important player in the new ED will be KDMC’s radiologydepartment, which will operate the new CT scanner and X-ray machineso critical in diagnosing patients’ internal problems.

“The quicker you can get started, the better the treatment,”said radiology director Jim Krichbaum. “[Having radiology equipmentin the ED] is going to greatly speed up the turnaround time to getimages back to the physicians. It can impact the patient’s statuswhile they’re there.”

Krichbaum said radiology would continue to provide ultrasound,nuclear medicine and MRI services out of the radiology departmentwhile some technicians manned the controls in the new ED. Both willbe staffed around the clock, he said.

“We’re excited about it,” Krichbaum said. “It’s going to makeour lives easier from the standpoint that we don’t have totransport patients. With the old ED, the only we had to go in themiddle of the night was through the back hallway – no surveillance,no cameras. It’s kind of like being in space … [The new ED] willbe much safer for the patients, safer for the employees. It’s avery good thing.”

KDMC Chief Executive Officer Alvin Hoover said the new ED wouldreceive its Certificate of Occupancy, which signifies itscompliance with building codes, next week, and a “few more things”still need to be done before opening.

Once up and running, Hoover said the new ED would position KDMCwell for the future in Southwest Mississippi.

“Health care is a competitive market, and we want people inLincoln County to stay home for health care,” he said. “We wantpeople in surrounding counties to look to us for health care needsthey can’t get in their home environment. When you look at healthcare in general, this says we have a commitment to the growinghealth care market.”