Catching the First Wave of Change

Written by ryan. Posted in Uncategorized


Published on September 16, 2010 with No Comments

By Carl Kurek

On Oct. 28, 2009, William Schenck, president of St. Mary Medical Center’s board of directors, was standing in front of the Hospital’s Emergency Department in Hobart holding a shovel while the hospital ceremoniously broke ground on a new $8 million Emergency Department expansion and renovation.
Last Thursday, just shy of 11 months later, Schenck was speaking into a microphone from almost the exact same spot, only with a totally different backdrop. The first phase of a two-part renovation project is now complete and beginning the week of September 13, patients will begin receiving emergency services in the new addition.

The second phase will then begin with renovation of the existing department, and the entire project, which will have nearly doubled the space of the current ER, is expected to be complete by the end of November. But in his remarks, Schenck said that there’s no end in sight when it comes to renovating and updating the medical center.
He meant it in a positive way of course.
I’m as impressed as everyone else is with all of this,” Schenck said. “But it’s not like you’re going to hear someone say ‘OK we’re all done.’ There will always be more improvements.”
Changes to the exterior of the building are immediately apparent with two, separate entrances – one being for ambulances and Emergency Medical Transport vehicles, and another for the public. The public entrance is wider than will be widened and canopied, and the number of ambulance drop off areas will be increased from two to four.
A wide, brightly lit and easily identifiable canopy offers a clearly defined point of entry that is also heated and features a skylight. Visitors entering the building might feel as if they somehow made a wrong turn and ended up in a five-star hotel, but rest assured, the flat-screen TV, fireplace and wireless internet are all that is responsible for that feeling.
The true inspiration behind the interior design of the new ER is intended to provide visitors with the sights, sounds and experiences of the Dunes. The combination of abstract imagery, the wood ceiling treatments, driftwood and sea glass ceramic tiles and water feature create a tranquil sound taking visitors to a relaxing place.
Our goal is for you to never have to use any of this,” Paula Rousis, nurse manager of the ER said to a group of confused visitors. “We would rather get people straight to the back for care, that’s always our goal. But we know that won’t always be possible so we designed this area and tried make it as soothing as possible.”
Besides the addition of 10 treatment rooms, the ER now also houses one trauma room, two new triage rooms, and seven treatment rooms specifically designed to maximize patient flow and delivery of care.
“We need to be as efficient as possible,” Rousis added. “That’s what we’re here for – efficiency.”
Individuals entering the ER were often quick to notice the footprints in the sand-colored ceramic tiles that adorn the path from the vestibule to the Greeter desk. As Robert Scroeder – a paramedic tech turned greeter for the day – would explain to them, the footprints are inspired by the poem “Footprints in the Sand” by Mary Stevenson and are intended to remind all who enter that they are not alone.
“They love it,” Schroeder said as he explained the typical reaction of visitors. “The design and everything, it’s just so much bigger. It’s exciting.”
The advanced technology hidden behind the behind the dunes’ inspired finishes might be less apparent to visitors, but it will without a doubt benefit them if they return to the ER for care.
Medical teams can now perform an EKG or EEG in every room, providing a quicker assessment of a patient’s condition, especially those experiencing a stroke or heart attack. Wireless technology also enables staff to monitor a patient’s condition as they may be moved throughout the department and, with a press of a button, results can be sent instantly to cardiologists or neurologists.
A built-in tube system enables staff to send tissue and blood samples to the laboratory for analysis, and major diagnostic tests like x-ray, MRI and CT scanner are located right in or immediately adjacent to the Emergency Department. All of which have been done as part of an effort to speed up care.
“It has really been amazing, I’m so impressed,” the Most Rev. Dale Melczek, who was chosen to bless the new addition at the ribbon cutting ceremony, said. “I’m very happy to evoke God’s blessing on this project.”
For more information about St. Mary Medical Center, call 942-0551, or visit

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