After many years of planning and fundraising, the new wing of Marshall Medical Center officially opened at 5 a.m. on Jan. 15.
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The impressive three-story building includes a state-of-the-art emergency department on the ground floor along with a large lobby and private consultation rooms. A very spacious and comfortable maternity center occupies the second floor. The third floor is not used at present.
Over 90 employees work in the new emergency department, including two physicians on call 24 hours a day, 50 RNs, nurse practitioners, and a crew of support staff.
The hospital staff are particularly proud that the new emergency room is certified as a Level III trauma center, one of only two in all of California. To earn that designation, the hospital had to meet certain standards, including staff training and equipment. All of the nurses and doctors in the emergency room are trauma certified. They also have a surgeon available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Running the new emergency department are its two co-directors, Janice Weaver and Carol Velasquez, both RNs.
“Welcome to our fabulous emergency department,” said Weaver. “I’m so proud of this place.”
Both long-term employees at Marshall — Velasquez has been there for 26 years and Weaver for over 13 — the two RNs couldn’t stop beaming as they showed off some of the new features of the department, including its 24 beds, two triage rooms, four trauma bays, multiple portable workstations on wheels, and two state-of-the-art 64-slice CT scanners.
The new machines produce faster and more accurate images. The hospital bought two so that if one goes down they no longer have to transport patients to Cameron Park.
The emergency room also has two isolation rooms. These are negative pressure rooms that can handle patients with communicable diseases such as tuberculosis.
In addition, outside the main doors to the emergency room are two decontamination showers for patients who need to be sanitized before entering the building. Staff said water from the shower drains into a bladder under the concrete and then is picked up by a company that purifies it.
Velasquez and Weaver said a lot of thought was given to centralizing everything so patients don’t need to be moved from one building to the next, thus reducing waiting and treatment time. Maintaining communications and providing a continuous update of data on patients was also part of the design.
For example, they have large tracking boards set up throughout the emergency department. The boards list what treatment patients are receiving, what lab tests have been ordered, and the results of those tests. However, patient privacy is protected by not indicating any diagnosis on the screens.
To ensure constant communication with all the staff, they have a wireless system that allows people to talk and receive messages through their badges.
One person already using the new emergency room was Patty Sanford from Placerville. She came in at 5:30 a.m. on the 16th with abdominal pain. “I’m not sure what it is,” she said. “I recently brought my mother through the old ER. There is just more room here and privacy. The flow is much easier and the noise level is much lower. Everything is very pretty and new. It’s a nice improvement. And it was very quick getting in here.”
The move between the old ER and the new one took place very early in the morning to minimize any interruption in care. By 5 a.m. it was complete and they were open for business in the new center with the old one shut down.
“Everyone was so excited,” said Velasquez. “We had a volunteer come in at 4 a.m. to help us move. We have fabulous physicians and a family atmosphere. People love caring for patients here. One person even gave a patient a ride home after being released. Our staff goes out of their way for them. This is the best place to work.”
Brahms and babies
Meanwhile, upstairs in the maternity wing of the building, Siya, the first baby born in the new center, was settling in with her parents, Raman and Sakshi Chopra of El Dorado.
Her birth was announced over the PA system with the playing of Brahms’ Lullaby, which it does with every birth.
Weighing in at 8 pounds 7 ounces, Siya is the Chopra’s third child. She was born at 4 a.m. on Jan. 15 — around the same time Siya’s mom was being moved from the old maternity wing to the new one.
“All the staff are very good,” said new father Raman, holding his baby daughter. “They have very good rooms. Very clean.”
Overseeing the new facility is Birth Center Director Deena Purdy, RN.
“It’s wonderful,” she said. “I’m so absolutely thrilled to be in here.”
Purdy said the early morning move on Jan. 15 didn’t faze her. “The easy part was getting the patients here. The biggest challenge was how much stuff you accumulate and what to keep and what to purge. We coordinated to ensure continuity of service. We had two women in labor at the same time. But it all worked out. We have such a committed staff. They stayed until the wee hours of the morning to make sure everything was in the right place.”
Purdy said the new center includes 12 private postpartum rooms, five large birthing rooms, two rooms for outpatients, and its own operating room.
Lots of planning went into making the new center very patient friendly, including offering large private postpartum rooms that can accommodate families and friends as well as shelves for flowers and gifts; jacuzzi tubs to help relieve labor pains; pull-out beds for dads in all the rooms; labor pain relief available 24 hours a day; and tracking boards similar to those in the emergency room.
However, these tracking boards monitor the baby’s heart rate in the womb and the mother’s contraction rate.
Purdy said they expect to deliver 500 babies a year and will offer tours in the future so others can visit the new facility. They also are initiating some baby friendly initiatives, including training on the importance of breast-feeding.
“This (new center) is a real investment in the community and community health education,” she said, noting that she had been part of the planning process for the new wing for close to 18 years.
“But it was bittersweet because I worked in the old unit for 25 years. There are memories of the old place, but you know you’re moving on to something bigger and better.
“We’ll be getting used to this new place for a long time,” she said, “but in a good way.”
Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or [email protected] Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.