Rutland hospital opens new emergency department

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(Host) On Sunday, the Rutland Regional Medical Center will celebrate the completion of its new emergency department and power plant. As VPR’s Nina Keck reports, it’s all part of a multi-year, $21 million expansion and renovation project going on at the hospital.

(Keck) You can still hear some hammering, but most of the really noisy stuff has been done already. The new 16,000-square foot emergency department at Rutland Regional Medical Center will officially open July 16. Mary Nemeth, who’s been heading up the $7.5 million project for the hospital, says it will provide two and a half times the space of the current facility.

(Nemeth) “The whole emergency department is brand new. So if you’d ever been in our emergency department, the first thing you saw is how small it was and how cramped. There was a lack of privacy. Each patient will have a private space with a door that closes and opens, not just a curtain. And privacy is a big deal in the sickest time of your life.”

(Keck) Nemeth says another big deal is the improved layout of the emergency department.

(Nemeth) “The ambulances are able to bring people right in to a trauma room, they won’t have to walk through corridors like they do now. This space is very private away from the waiting rooms.”

(Keck) In light of national and world developments, Nemeth says more attention has been paid to security, and a decontamination room was added. When the current emergency department was built in the 1960s, Nemeth says they handled about 18,000 patients a year. Today, she says the staff handles around 34,000 emergency visits a year, so more space was crucial.

Doctors, nurses and staff will also have more of what they need right at their fingertips, which Nemeth says will increase productivity and lessen time in the waiting room. But she says even the waiting room is better.

(Nemeth) “We’ve always taken grief for not having light in our waiting room. So this is something we really believed in.”

(Keck) Floor to ceiling windows in the circular waiting room show off views of the mountains from every direction. There’s also a long, out of the way hall for pacing, and it too has plenty of windows.

(Nemeth) “The scenery here – we need to take advantage of it. Because when you’re stressed and you look out at that view you think, ‘Oh, it’s not so bad.'”

(Keck) Despite having to fire their original builders and redraw plans, Nemeth says the project finished several months ahead of schedule and stayed in budget. A community open house will be held this Sunday from 12 noon to 3:00 p.m. Guided tours of the emergency department and the hospital’s new $7.5 million power plant will be available throughout the afternoon.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Nina Keck in Rutland.

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