Beaufort Memorial Hospital opened its new $14.5-million Pratt Emergency Center Wednesday, ready to treat everything from cuts and contusions to broken bones and back aches.
Double the size of the former ER, the 20,500-square-foot facility offers patients more privacy in comfortable treatments rooms with features carefully chosen to improve safety and care.
More than three years in the making, the expansion and renovation was funded in part by donations from the community and the employees of the hospital. A $1.5-million gift made by Beaufort
philanthropist Dr. Bruce Pratt in honor of his parents provided the start-up money for the ambitious project. Last year, the hospital renamed the ER the Dr. George N. Pratt and Sarah Meyer Pratt Emergency Center.
As many as 120,000 people — 40,000 of them patients — end up in Beaufort Memorial’s ER each year.
“We want to make the experience pleasant and efficient,” said Beaufort Memorial Hospital President and CEO Rick Toomey.
From the parking lot, visitors enter the building on a pathway constructed to look like a boardwalk.
Recognizing the stress and fear experienced by patients and their families during a medical emergency, the 45-seat reception area was designed with the healing arts in mind. Consultants chose the paint colors, décor and furnishings to create a restorative and relaxing environment. Visitors also have the option of waiting outside in a “Lowcountry” patio with a covered seating area.
But it’s the treatment rooms that are the big standout. All 26 rooms in the new ER are private. The former quarters featured only seven private rooms. Each room has large doors that can be retracted to provide wide access to move patients in and out comfortably. Dimming LED lighting was used to create a soothing environment, especially important to patients with migraines and head injuries.
Even the linen closets were designed to minimize disturbances to the patients. Outside access was provided so staff can load them without having to enter the rooms.
The size of the workstations for nurses and physicians also was increased to accommodate up to 14 clinicians. These work areas are now centrally located with open views of all patient rooms for visual monitoring and quick access.
The new emergency center also features two triage rooms, two trauma rooms, a nine-seat waiting area for patients awaiting discharge and another five individual waiting areas for patients requiring extra monitoring, infusions or additional space and privacy.
The much-needed expansion has boosted the ER’s capacity from 24 to 45 patients at a time, helping meet the growing demand for emergency medical services in the region.
“Not only do we have a beautiful new space for them to come to, “ said Emergency Department Assistant Director Ashley Hildreth, RN, “but more importantly, we’ve worked on the process that we use to get patients from the front door to a physician and back out efficiently with prescriptions, medications, and treatment that they need in a faster time frame.”
Other new features include two enclosed decontamination areas for patients exposed to toxins, three outdoor decontamination showers for non-toxic exposures and two isolation rooms for patients with communicable diseases like tuberculosis, chicken pox or measles.
In the future, automated check-in kiosks will be installed that will allow patients to register by simply swiping their driver license or ID.
Major upgrades also were made to the hospital’s infrastructure, including increasing the capacity of the cooling system, vital to the operation of the sophisticated medical equipment and technology being used in today’s ER.
Three new 800-kilowat generators with 96 hours of fuel ensure the hospital can continue to operate in the event of a power outage.
To learn more about the new Pratt Emergency Center, visit www.bmhsc.org.