By Becky Killian / Editor
More space, new equipment and more comfortable patient waiting areas were among the new amenities on display at Jellico Community Hospital Tuesday.
Officials from the hospital and the community gathered for the official ribbon cutting for the hospital’s newly expanded and renovated emergency department.
“What a great day,” CEO Erik Wangsness said to those gathered for the ribbon cutting.
Prior to the expansion, Jellico’s ER had been seeing more than double its capacity for patients, so Wangsness said the investment in the facility is a “blessing.”
The more than $3 million project increased the ER’s space from about 6,000 to 8,500 square feet, according to Jason Dunkel, executive director of marketing and business development for the hospital.
After the ribbon cutting, tours were offered of the ER.
Kathy Gimbel, the ER nursing director, was among those hospital officials who led tours.
When the original space that housed the ER opened in 1993, Gimbel’s husband was the nursing director. Gimbel said while that construction project had little involvement from the nursing staff, this renovation was different since the nursing staff had a lot of input and was given a great deal of responsibility in the project.
Gimbel said the ultimate outcome of the project aims to benefit the hospital’s patients.
“Really, it’s all about the patient experience,” she said, adding the renovation has resulted in an “attractive setting.”
Televisions have been added to the waiting rooms as well as in the patient rooms, most of which are now private. Phones are also in the rooms, which have been expanded.
Before the work, Gimbel said the smaller rooms forced the beds to be placed against the wall, which impeded nurses’ ability to maneuver as needed while they treated patients. It also severely limited the space for any person waiting with a patient.
The main waiting room, which will also eventually feature a play space for children, has more air flow to ensure those waiting have less exposure to any airborne contagion. The ER also has a negative pressure room that only allows air to flow into the room which is important should a patient be infected with tuberculosis or another highly contagious illness.
The renovation has also brought more space to the nurse’s station as well as lockers. Patients and their loved ones can get coffee and nutritious snacks while they wait.
The ER sees about 1,000 patients a month, although Gimbel said the hospital aims to see that number grow.