PITTSBURG — A long-awaited renovation project at the Via Christi Hospital emergency room is complete.
The 15-year-old emergency room was renovated to create a better workflow for the staff, a shortened length of stay for patients and better accessibility for people with disabilities.  On Friday the hospital hosted a ribbon cutting to celebrate the completion of the renovation.
“It’s been about 15 years since we built this emergency room and since that time, the ER has been running 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Via Christi President Randy Cason said. “We were able to get this project done and completed while we were taking care of our patients each and every day.
“If you have ever lived and renovated your home you understand what some of the trials and tribulations of that are, and our staff was able to do that, take care of our patients with excellence during that time.”
Now there are three fast-track bays, which allows for the emergency room to “see lower acuity patients while seeing emergent patients at the same time,” Emergency Room Medical Director Dr. Tim Stebbins said.
“It doesn’t seem like a lot of space but functionally it helps us each and every day to see patients quicker and get them the care they need at the time that they need it,” Stebbins said.
For example, people who need an x-ray or have a persistent cold while the doctor’s office is closed will go to the bays. Care at the bays will be provided by a nurse practitioner and other nurses.
In addition to the bays, people who have a mental illness and need a safe environment will have a room to go to at the hospital while they await transportation to another facility.
Offices were also moved to not only make space, but to help the staff’s workflow.
The renovation also includes a break room, which is “huge” for the staff, Stebbins said.
“It’s huge for them [the nurses] each and every day to have a place they can put their stuff down and go eat that is close to the nursing station and functionally makes us better,” he said.
The emergency room also had a facelift, which includes new floors, paint and the reception desk.
“That means a lot because it makes you feel good about where you are at and in a tough environment like the Emergency Department, that’s huge,” Stebbins said.
Photographs created by Dick Coleman, Richard Miller and Bill Miller, donated by Millers Mpix, hang on the wall for decoration. Cason thanked the business for its contribution.
The project cost $846,000, an expensive — but worthwhile process, Cason said.  
“A lot of the work we had to do you are never going to see, a lot of the work is above the ceilings,” he said. “Changes to the air handling systems, making sure we keep our environment as safe as possible … it’s very important for patient safety but you may not see that.”
Cason thanked the contractors from Conco, who were understanding of the working conditions in the emergency room.
“We thank them for their diligence and working with staff through this time,” he said.  
Cason thanked the Mount Carmel Foundation which raised $252,000 for the project.
“We formally want to thank the Mt. Carmel Foundation for supporting the project, the foundation is a wonderful thing for our community in supporting our hospital,” Cason said. “It’s a wonderful testament of the support we get from the foundation and from the community.”
The Mount Carmel Foundation, and community at large, helped make the project possible, Stebbins said. The foundation raises funds through philanthropy, grants, planned giving, and special events such as the annual Mount Carmel Foundation Gala.
“It’s a large renovation, coming up with extra donation to help facilitate this process — it wouldn’t happen without the hard work of the Mount Carmel Foundation and Johnna and her team.” Johnna Norton is the Executive Director of the Mt. Carmel Foundation.
Stebbins thanked the hospital’s leadership for listening to the needs of the ER.
“It’s a difficult process when spending money,” Stebbins said. “Trying to get that in place, they went to bat for us and fought for us, got a lot of things we wanted and listened to our needs.
“We are very appreciative of that.”
Stebbins also showed his appreciation to his staff Emergency Services Director Naomi Powers and Emergency Services Manager Jessica Cobb.
— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at spotter@morningsun.net or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.