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St. Mary’s ER to undergo reconstructive surgery

By Josh Aldrich, Camrose Canadian

From left, medical director Dr. Art Jaroni, patient care manager Melissa Berg, and ER manager Michelle Solverson unveiled plans for a renovated emergency room at St. Mary’s Hospital in Camrose on Friday. The renovation will begin next week and should be finished in three months. Josh Aldrich/ Camrose Canadian

From left, medical director Dr. Art Jaroni, patient care manager Melissa Berg, and ER manager Michelle Solverson unveiled plans for a renovated emergency room at St. Mary’s Hospital in Camrose on Friday. The renovation will begin next week and should be finished in three months. Josh Aldrich/ Camrose Canadian

The emergency room at St. Mary’s Hospital is about to get a face lift 28 years in the making. 

 

The current emergency room has never properly functioned since the hospital opened in 1989. It has undergone little tweaks over the years to try and make it work better, still they were limited to what they could do. The proper redesign of the emergency room will improve access, safety, flow, and security and privacy for patients needing care. There were 17,600 emergency room visits at St. Mary’s in 2015-16. 

The renovation is budgeted at $1 million, all of which has been raised through St. Mary’s Hospital, Camrose foundation. 

Serious studies and inquiries into a proper ER renovation began almost 15 years ago, and this is a day ER manager Michelle Solverson never believed would come. 

“(ER staff) is still saying ‘we’ll believe it when we see it,’ even though it’s right around the corner,” she said. “I’m excited to have this done in my time in the department.” 

The design of the new department was a collaborative effort between doctors, nurses, staff and with feedback from patients. Solverson, has been quite hands on in the process, along with patient care manager Melissa Berg, site administrator Cherylyn Antymniuk and medical director Dr. Art Jaroni. Architectural designs were drawn up by Kasian Architecture Interior Design and Planning Ltd. and the construction work will be done by Shunda Consulting and Construction, who just completed renovations at the Red Deer Regional Hospital. 

Central to the reconfiguration will be the nurses station. It will have vastly improved sight lines and will be able to more efficiently process and assess needs of patients, instead of having them wait in the current triage alcove in the hallway. 

“Patients in the community coming to see us in emergency are more acute when they get to our emergency department,” said Antymniuk. “So the fact the nurses working in the emergency department can actually lay eyes on everybody in the emergency department with the new redesign is extremely important.”

The renovation will also address many other needs, including the waiting area, medication room, cast room, and a wheelchair accessible washroom. 

One of the more important upgrades will be security in the ER, with key card entry to most areas required and more protection for doctors, patients and their privacy. 

“People cannot just walk in and see their supposed friend, they have to go through someone to approve that and the patients will have more privacy, I think it’s a win-win,” said Jaroni. “Because of the physical structure and the way things are organized, people are sneaking up on us and it’s nice to know when they’re coming at you.” 

The overall project will be completed in four phases, the first phase will take three months to complete and should begin the first week of October. It is hoped all four phases are complete by spring.  

Throughout the project the ER will still be open, however staff is asking for patience from those in need of assistance and to be aware of some of the temporary changes in place. 

All ER patients will be asked to check-in at the main registration desk inside the main entrance of the hospital. Those going to the emergency room will be assessed in the new temporary triage alcove in the waiting room across the hall from the registration desk. Patients will still be treated in order of need and then assigned to examination rooms as their priority comes up. 

“It’s going to be pretty fluid figuring out what’s working and what isn’t working and coming up with solutions right away,” said Antymniuk.  

Staff are also reminding people that the walk-in clinic has been moved to the Smith Clinic in Duggan Mall. 

Jaroni, however, says the hospital is in a terrific position from a staffing stand point to be able to handle the complications added by the renovation. 

“If ever there was a time to do this, this is the best time,” he said. “We are doing well with primary care, there are family doctors, there’s doctors doing obstetrics, there’s hospitalists, so we can get patients out of emerge and into beds faster … it has never been this good.” 

 

jaldrich@postmedia.com 

 



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