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In The News

Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital receives final OK to expand Emergency Department

Santa RosaMemorial Hospitalreceives final OK to expand Emergency Department;  15 million renovation to begin in May 2012 at the region’s Level II Trauma Center

A long anticipated renovation of Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital’s emergency department, postponed after a downturn in the financial markets in 2008, is scheduled to resume this month, with construction to begin Monday, May 21, 2012.

The hospital received the final permits required from OSHPD on May 11 for the $15 million expansion, which will add nearly 50 percent more square footage to Sonoma County’s busiest ER and will feature 26 private patient rooms plus a triage room (for a total of 27 fully enclosed rooms), allowing the North Coast region’s only Level II Trauma Center to treat more critically ill and injured patients – while more quickly triaging and caring for patients with less acute conditions. Occupancy of the enlarged ER and Trauma Center, which will total just over 13,500 square feet, is slated to begin in early 2014.

“We’re committed to providing patients more privacy, a state-of-the-art environment, and decreased wait times,” said Kristy Gaub, RN, Director of Emergency, Trauma and Urgent Care Services for St. Joseph Health in Sonoma County, which owns and operates the 278-bed hospital. On average, Memorial’s Emergency Department treats about 100 patients per day, or about 36,500 patients per year.

Jim Adams, CEO of REACH Air Medical Services and chairman of Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital’s board of trustees, emphasizes the project’s importance to North Coast residents and visitors: “As someone who works to bring emergency transport services to the critically ill and injured, I know having Emergency and Trauma services that are optimally equipped to meet today’s and tomorrow’s healthcare needs are fundamental to the health and safety of our community and region,” Adams said. “Expanding Memorial’s Emergency Department and Trauma Center will bring more capacity to care for everyone in our community and region.”

Santa Rosa Memorial’s Emergency Room is the gateway to a hospital that consistently ranks among California’s top tier of hospitals in the level of severity of traumatic injuries treated, based on the acuity of its patients’ conditions. It is among the four busiest Level II trauma centers in California, according to Trauma experts.

Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital is one of only 23 Level II trauma centers of its kind in California verified by the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma, which every 3 years conducts an on-site, two-day survey of the hospital to ensure it is maintaining best practices in the specialty of trauma care. During the most recent triennial survey (conducted April 2-3, 2012), American College of Surgeons surveyors reaffirmed their recommendation to modernize Memorial’s Emergency Department, a goal long shared by hospital leaders. The expansion and renovation seek to upgrade the facility to better match the multi-disciplinary, life-saving expertise of its physicians and others on the clinical staff.

The upgraded Emergency Room also is designed to speed and improve care for non-trauma patients, including those suffering life-threatening conditions including stroke and heart attacks. Even in cases of less severe illness or injury, “we’ll be able to get patients into beds more quickly,” said Dr. Ed West, an Emergency Medicine physician at Santa Rosa Memorial who has served as the chief clinical consultant on the project.  

Architectural designs call for renovation of the department’s existing 9,280-square-foot space with an adjacent single-story, 4,228-square-foot expansion, all on the hospital’s ground level. Features include:

  • An increased number of patient treatment beds, from 19 to 26, plus a 27th bed reserved for triaging patients.
  • Upgrading all patient bays to private rooms.
  • Enlarging the waiting area with seating for 60 people and a roomier reception area.
  • 2 nurses stations, 2 physician charting rooms, additional private space for consultations with patient families, a dedicated Ear, Nose and Throat treatment room, and other features.

Phased-in construction will ensure that an adequate number of ER beds remain open throughout the two-year duration of the project.

The hospital is fortunate to have secured pledges from a number of local donors whose contributions will help fund the expansion, and fund-raising is ongoing. Very generous support from the community enabled Memorial to complete its last major construction project – the Norma and Evert Person Heart & Vascular Institute – which opened in November 2008 and which has earned regional and nationwide recognition for clinical breakthroughs and positive patient outcomes.

Soon after the Heart & Vascular Institute opened, a nationwide economic downturn caused Memorial’s leaders to postpone a $68 million Emergency Department and ICU expansion. The current proposal represents a more narrowly focused upgrade designed to meet community needs through 2030, with increased ER and Trauma capacity to treat at least 50,000 patients or more per year.

“This expansion will allow us to better treat and comfort patients and their families, and to maintain our long-standing commitment to excellence in trauma services, cardiovascular care, and other life-saving treatments,” said Kevin A. Klockenga, President and Chief Executive Officer of St. Joseph Health in Sonoma County. “It will build our capacity as a regional hub of medical excellence, equipped to care for area residents now and for decades to come.”

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