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WCH Begins ER Expansion

By Staff | Apr 22, 2009

This artist’s rendering gives an idea of what the new entrance to the emergency room at Wetzel County Hospital will look like when completed.

The long awaited $2.6 million expansion and renovation project that will double the number of beds upgrade and improve the services in the Wetzel County Hospital Emergency Department is finally underway.

That announcement was made on April 16, during a press conference held at WCH about the project.

George Couch, chief executive officer of Wetzel County Hospital, said the preliminary work has begun. It is the beginning of a realization that began with just a desire and need.

Marge Knight, R.N., Chief Nurse of Emergency and Outpatient Services stated, “We (nurses) literally had a stick drawing on paper in the beginning of what we wanted in an ER expansion. Vivian Workman, our lead architect, helped us in getting exactly what we wanted.”

Couch is also extremely excited about the long-awaited expansion, noting they are using West Virginia-based business R.C Construction of Charleston, W.Va., for the construction of the expansion.

Pictured from left are George Couch, WCH Chief Executive Officer; George Friedline, WCH Board to Trustee; Eric Vincent, vice president of WesBanco Bank; Shandy Broom, project manager from RC Construction; Marge Knight, WCH Chief of Emergency and Outpatient Services; Vivian Workman, architect with Krebs and Zachwieja; and Steve Fox, WCH Board of Trustees. (Photo by Tammy Wayman)

A total of $2.6 million has been budgeted for the new ER, with $300,000 for equipment. Partial funding is a grant from the United States Department of Health and Human Resources, Health Resources and Service Administration in the amount of $853,062 secured with help from Senator Robert C. Byrd. The remaining funding came from refinancing of the hospital’s long term bonds by WesBanco Bank and the assistance of Wetzel County Commission and Wetzel County Building Commission.

Knight showed at the press release the blueprints of what the expansion will look like and described the highlights of what the ER will offer the public. She explained that the emergency room will have its own entrance, waiting room, reception desk, and a new state of art trauma and cardiac rooms, gynecology room, orthopedic/suture room, isolation room, and its own decontamination room. She also showed in the presentation three triage rooms, four treatment rooms, physician office, medication room, private patient bathrooms, a family room for counseling or bereavement, and a large nursing station.

Knight explained that they are going from the present three rooms with six beds to 12 private rooms when the project is completed. She also explained that they will have a central monitoring system for the patients. Each and every room with have cardiac and vital signs monitoring system where a printout can be obtained on the patient there in the rooms or at the nurses’ station. There will be a system to monitor drugs being administered to the patients also. Another feature of the expansion is that the new ER beds will be capable of weighing a patient and doing x-rays without ever moving the patient.

Knight also said, “The ER nurses had 100 percent input on this project, every single one.” The nurses also picked out the color scheme for the ER. She noted they will be going from 2,000 square feet to almost 7,000 square feet.

The ER will also have an upgraded ambulance bay with the mobile MRI area by it and a separate office that will be located for hospital security staff to control the after-hours access to the hospital.

According to the press release by Wetzel County Hospital, Workman, lead architect of Kreps and Zachwieja of Charleston, stated the work will be a multi-phased project consisting of construction of the new addition to the existing hospital. Knight also spoke of the expansion, stating it will be a two-phased project. She explained at the presentation the ER will still be a level four trauma facility.

“We will use as much local labor as we can” on this project,” said Shandy Broom, project manager of RC Construction.

Steve Fox, WCH Board of Trustee member, said with the expansion, “We get the opportunity to assist the needs of community.”

Couch reported that this Emergency Room expansion, when done, will shorten the waiting time, speed up patient care, and it will be patient friendly.

The project is expected to take 10 months to complete. “By implementing a multi-phase construction plan, we will be able to keep at least six emergency department beds available at all time, but there will be some inconveniences for patients and staff at various levels of the project. We will do our very best to keep those situations as minimally disruptive as possible. However, the final product will be one that everyone associated with Wetzel County Hospital is proud of and that will allow us to provide better, quicker service to patients needing emergency care.”