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Returning your call

November 02, 2007

Q: "My husband was a patient admitted to the hospital at Washington County the other night, and they had to hold him in the emergency room all night long because they didn't have any more beds left in the hospital. So what I don't understand is the new hospital is going to have less patient beds. So why are they are even building a new one if they can't hold the patients now? They don't have enough beds for the patients, and they're gonna build a smaller hospital. Why are they wasting all the money?"

- Clear Spring

A: "While it is true there will only be four fewer beds (down from 271 to 267), there will actually be more medical, surgical and critical care beds (201 total). This includes an increase of 20 percent more critical care beds. We also plan to have 20 obstetrics beds, 18 psychiatric beds and eight pediatric beds. The reduction in beds is due to plans to reduce rehab beds to 20 in the new hospital.

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All the beds in the new hospital will be in single patient rooms, so they can be used more efficiently. Because the majority of the rooms are not single patient rooms in our current hospital, at any given time, 10 to 15 percent of medical and surgical beds are not available because of isolation, incompatible diagnosis or gender.

For example, in the current hospital, if we need a bed for a female patient and the only one open is in a male patient's room, we can't admit that patient until another bed opens in a female patient's room. If a patient requires isolation, the second bed must remain empty that won't happen in the new hospital.

Currently, many of the patients who are waiting in the emergency department for a bed are in need of a monitored bed. Sometimes, monitored beds are not available now because there are a limited number of monitored beds throughout the hospital. In the new hospital, all beds can be monitored so patients will not have to wait for access to a monitored bed.

With more medical, surgical and critical care beds, all single patient rooms, and the capability to monitor all patients, we will be able to treat more patients, even with four fewer total beds."

- Mary Towe, vice president, Washington County Hospital chief nursing officer

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