JEFFERSON —The long awaited Ashe Memorial Hospital Emergency Department renovations will officially start next week.
According to Laura Lambeth, Ashe Memorial’s CEO, the upgrades will turn the aging emergency department in a state of the art facility by next October.
The $1.9 million project will be completed in two phases within the next 10 months.
According to Lambeth and AMH Chief Operating Officer Joe Thore, the renovations should give patient’s an exceptional experience and will hopefully create a major change in how AMH is perceived in the community.
Thore says nearly 90 percent of the hospital’s admissions begin in the emergency department.
“We’re really excited about what this does for the community, for those patients that are coming here and for this hospital,” Thore said. “This is the main key ingredient that we’ve been missing for this experience.”
Lambeth is asking for the community’s assistance in making the project go as smoothly as possible by using Mountain Family Care Center for non-emergency conditions. That should allow emergency room patients to receive treatment faster.
“As efficient as we want to be, anytime you’re in the middle of a construction project in the middle of your emergency department, it’s going to slow things down,” Lambeth said. “We ask for the community’s patience and indulgence because once we have that …renovated, they are going to be extremely pleased with their community emergency department.”
Here’s what state of the art looks like
It’s a long overdue upgrade for a department that hasn’t been renovated since 1991, Lambeth said. AMH employees previously said they hope the makeover will help centralize patient rooms for nurses to provide more efficient care to patients.
“It’s going to be painful for 10 months, but its going to be worth it,” Lambeth said. “It is going to be ‘state of the art’ when we’re finished and the community deserves it.”
According to Emergency Department Nurse Manager Kina Jones, the department’s nursing staff and physicians have had a lot of input on the final design. Jones said the staff has been meeting with an architect once a month for the last six months to share their thoughts on which parts of the design work and which won’t.
The final design adds more than 2,000-square feet of space and provides for an additional nurse station. A total of 12 exam rooms will be available, including two behavioral exam health rooms and five “fast track” rooms which will be used for those with less emergent needs.
“If there’s something you can take care of quickly and get that patient on the road and have a good patient encounter, you want to do that,” Thore said. “Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to do that all the time with the current space limitations and the flow of that space but with the design that has been put into this, it improves our ability to have good flow for all patients.”
Lambeth said that all exam rooms will have glass doors that allows providers to check in at all times but curtains will also be available for privacy. Exam rooms will also have new equipment such as stretchers and procedure lights.
A refreshment center was also developed as part of the waiting room that will provide coffee and snacks for those waiting to be treated or for those waiting on family members. Lambeth and Thore believe this will help ease the minds of those coming into the emergency department.
According to Thore, the renovation project will create a few challenges for AMH but he said none should change the level of patient care provided.
“We will have to communicate well and make sure the patient flow is efficient and make sure that we don’t drop the ball with patient care – we don’t plan to,” Thore said.
During the renovations, the ambulance drop off point, patient entry way and waiting room will be temporarily moved and Thore said signs will be displayed to help guide patients.
“We’re going to do our best to have everything clearly marked and make it easy for everyone,” Thore said.
“A wonderful time at Ashe Memorial”
The $1.9 million project has been fully funded by grants and contributions from the community including the Hospital Foundation’s annual campaign, Blue Ridge Electric Impact Grant, the Golden Leaf Foundation, the Cannon Foundation, SkyLine Membership Corporation and Carolina West Wireless.
Vannoy Construction was hired as the general contractor for the project and according to Lambeth and Thore, the project wouldn’t be possible without the Vannoys.
“I think without the Vannoy’s, we coudn’t do this project. They are that generous,” Thore said. “I think they take a lot of pride in this hospital. They’re very supportive of this hospital.”
According to Lambeth, she is excited for the renovations to be completed and says an open house will be held to introduce the new facility to the community.
“It is just a wonderful time at Ashe Memorial to be able to renovate this emergency department and we couldn’t have done it without the support of the community, people that donated money and with the grants we’ve received,” Lambeth said. “We’ll be forever grateful for what they’ve done for the hospital to enable us to renovate this emergency department.”
Hannah Myers can be reached at 336-846-7164 or on Twitter @cmedia_hmyers.