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Second phase of Chambersburg ER renovation under way

October 31, 2005|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The second phase of a $13.9 million expansion and renovation of the Chambersburg Hospital Emergency Department is nearing completion, with additions that include X-ray and CAT scan facilities and rooms for behavioral health services.

The first phase involved construction of an addition to house 19 treatment rooms, nurse and physician stations, and trauma rooms, according to Dr. Thomas Anderson, medical director for the emergency department. Due to open Nov. 9, the second phase involved renovations to the former emergency room areas, said John Massimilla, the hospital's vice president for administration.

An additional 11 treatment rooms brings the total to 30, including dedicated treatment rooms for gynecological and orthopedic cases, Anderson said. The behavioral health area has a seclusion room and two interview rooms for people who are emotionally distraught or mentally unstable, he said.

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"We really expanded our behavioral health capabilities," Anderson said. Previously, those patients were seen in one of the regular treatment areas, which in the old emergency room, were curtained-off spaces.

The radiological suite eliminates the need to take some emergency room patients to another part of the hospital for those examinations, Massimilla said. It also gives the hospital redundant imaging capabilities, he said.

"A lot of people who come through the ER require CAT scans, particularly trauma patients," he said.

The newly renovated area also has new laboratory facilities, a conference room, offices, a break room and locker rooms, a family grieving room and a crisis intervention room, Anderson said. When the new section opens, the emergency department will have approximately 24,000 square feet of space.

Thirty beds, however, is not unlimited space, Anderson said. The emergency department sees about 45,000 people a year for treatment, an average of about 120 people a day, he said.

"It's been going up 5 percent to 7 percent for the past few years," Anderson said. "That really pushed the volume up, but we're not unique in that way. That's what emergency departments are seeing all over the country."

That includes an increasing number of patients who do not speak English, said Sue Dooley, the hospital's director of social services. She said the department now has staff on all three shifts that are working on their medical certification in a foreign language and the hospital has a full-time translator on staff.

While the Hispanic population of the area is growing, Dooley said the hospital's proximity to Interstate 81 means emergency room visits from patients speaking a variety of tongues. The hospital has access to a telephone service, Language Line, that can provide medically certified translators in 270 languages that are available around the clock.

The hospital also has DeafTalk, a service whereby a patient can communicate by sign language via a portable teleconferencing system to someone who can read and then relay the information to medical personnel, Dooley said.

Not everyone treated in the emergency room is actually going through a medical emergency but, Anderson said, "It's very difficult for lay people to know" what constitutes an emergency. Often some advice over the phone from a family doctor can answer that question, he said.

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