Olympic Medical Center details plans for emergency room expansion

By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Long wait times, tight quarters and a growing number of psychiatric and substance-abuse patients at Olympic Medical Center’s emergency room could be a thing of the past.

The $2.3 million, 2,800-square-foot expansion would add seven exam rooms to a remodeled 14-room layout, hospital commissioners were told this week.

It would be accomplished by extending the hospital’s southwest corner into a parking lot to the south.

“We’re very interested in reducing or not even using, actually, the hallway beds that we currently use to keep our patient flow going when the other rooms are occupied,” Sue Rainey, emergency services director, said at the OMC commissioners’ meeting Wednesday.

“We have three beds in the halls that we use very regularly. We sometimes can expand that up to five and even six on occasion when we’ve been extremely busy and kind of bursting at the seams.

“Of course, you can imagine it’s not ideal from a privacy perspective.”

Contract considered

OMC commissioners will consider approving a not-to-exceed $253,597 design contract for the ER expansion at their next meeting Dec. 18.

If approved, the new ER is expected to be up and running by February 2015, Chief Nursing Officer Lorraine Wall said.

“This is in the budget for 2014,” Wall added. “We would anticipate using debt funds to pay for this.”

The ER project would be funded by a $20 million loan from KeyBank that the commissioners approved Nov. 20 to pay for campus expansion and medical equipment.

“What our hope would be, if this was something that would be approved by the board, is that we would have the design completed by April of ’14,” Wall said.

The existing ER leaves little space for providers and equipment, Rainey said.

“We find that the real estate in the emergency department is in very high demand,” she added.

“We’re a department that kind of touches every other department throughout the hospital.”

Psychiatric facilities

The expanded 21-bed ER will have a decontamination room, one secure room and four “swing rooms” for psychiatric patients.

“With our increased psychiatric and behavioral health patient population, we’re having to pull everything we can that’s loose in a room out into the hallway to make that room more safe for patients that need that safety in a room,” Rainey said.

“And we’re having to do that on a more frequent occasion.”

Rainey said the swings rooms will have a garage door-type wall that can enclose loose equipment.

“So that room, then, becomes safe for someone who might be suicidal or otherwise have violent tendencies that could make them a danger to themselves,” she said.

“That even includes little things you wouldn’t necessarily consider like phone cords or cables for the monitor, anything that might be used as a weapon either to hurt themselves or to hurt someone else who’s trying to care for them.”

Rainey said hospitals around the state are treating more psychiatric patients. She cited a lack of dedicated psychiatric facilities.

Meanwhile, Peninsula Behavioral Health is planning to build a six-bed mental health crisis respite center in Port Angeles.

“There’s definitely a certain population that will be well served by that space,” Rainey said.


Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: December 05. 2013 5:42PM
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