By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News
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“We're looking at how we're going to deal with all these new patients,” Chief Executive Officer Eric Lewis said.
Health officials are expecting an increase of emergency room patients because those who now have insurance as required by the federal Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” seek health care and compete for a limited number of appointments at doctors' offices.
While he noted that eventually having more people insured is expected to lessen the emergency room load, Lewis said Massachusetts saw a spike in use after it implemented a statewide health reform package similar to Obamacare under Gov. Mitt Romney's administration.
“We've been told to expect at least a 10 percent increase in use at the ER,” Lewis said.
Three rooms are currently being added to the existing area, increasing the number of beds to 14 from 11.
Those extra rooms are expected to be open Jan. 31, Lewis told the hospital's commissioners Wednesday night.
Using a $20 million expansion loan approved last fall, the hospital is adding 2,800 square feet to the emergency room in a $2.3 million expansion project expected to be complete next spring.
Design by next month
By mid-February, the hospital should have a design for the expansion project. Lewis said they should be able to bid the project in April, with construction beginning in May and ending early next year.
The expanded area will have a room for detoxification and one secured for patients admitted for psychiatric care.
There will be another four rooms that can be private for psychiatric patients or can be used for general treatment.
“It's going to be much more private for our patients,” Lewis said.
Lewis said the hospital has seen an increase in the number of patients admitted for psychiatric care.
Later in the meeting, commissioners approved the purchase of five more cardiac respiratory monitors to stock in the finished rooms for $98,037.43.
Chief Nursing Officer Lorraine Wall said a spare unit already in use in the emergency room will be put in the sixth new room.
The hospital had budgeted $104,000 for the purchase of equipment for the expanded area, Wall said.
The monitors will be delivered toward the end of this year.
Cosmetic remodeling of the rest of the hospital also is underway.
New carpet and wood paneling have been installed in the lobby, and formerly carpeted corridor floors are being replaced with a finished concrete that Lewis said is easier to keep clean and maintain than the carpet was.
That remodel should be done by the end of February, Lewis said.
Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at email@example.com.