Meritus officals tweak new hospital's operation

December 13, 2010|By HEATHER KEELS |

HAGERSTOWN — Three days into the operation of Meritus Medical Center, hospital officials were still fine-tuning some logistics, but they  already were seeing improved emergency department wait times, room availability and morale, Meritus Health President and CEO James P. Hamill said Monday.

One issue that needed to be addressed in the first few days was parking, Hamill said.

“We have plenty of parking,” he said. “It’s just, with the cold weather, everybody tried to park real close to a door.”

As a result, spaces were hard to find in some areas, particularly between the hospital and Robinwood Professional Center, he said. But even at the peak of the parking congestion Monday morning, there were about 100 to 150 available spaces at the north end of the parking lot, Hamill said.

Part of the problem might have been that some in the first wave of staff, arriving before dawn and unused to the parking conventions, parked in the first available spots instead of their designated staff parking, he said. At Meritus, staff parking spaces have yellow lines while patient and visitor parking spaces have white lines, Hamill said. A memo has been issued to staff to straighten out the situation, he said.

Other adjustments needed since the hospital opened have included balancing the air quality system for the heat generated by having more people in the building, and adjustments to the building’s water system, Hamill said.
On Monday morning, the hospital’s directors met to discuss whether there had been any significant issues during the opening days.

“Given the magnitude of this facility, the answer is no,” Hamill said. “We had a really successful launch.”

Among the good news was that the wait time in the Meritus Medical Center emergency department on Sunday was about half an hour shorter than the normal wait at Washington County Hospital, Hamill said. That was despite having 225 patients that day in a department that budgets for about 190, he said.

He attributed the shorter wait times to the larger size of the Meritus emergency department, its improved design, and the availability of a CAT scanner and other equipment close by.
Hamill said as of Sunday, 205 of the medical center’s 267 patient rooms were filled.

In the old hospital, capacity was a mixed bag, with some departments having adequate beds and others sometimes filling, causing a need to transfer patients around to make room. So far, Meritus has had no need for that sort of shifting, he said.

The first surgical procedure at Meritus happened around noon Saturday and the new operating rooms have been busy since, he said.

“I’m hearing a lot of excitement from both medical staff and the operating room staff about the quality of the rooms and how it’s working,” Hamill said.

“Physicians seem to be very, very pleased, and patients and their visitors, likewise, I’m hearing. And our staff is hearing very good, very positive comments,” he said.

Meritus Medical Center opened Saturday at 6 a.m. at 11116 Medical Campus Road, next to Robinwood Professional Center. It replaces Washington County Hospital on East Anteitam Street.

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