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Published on May 04, 2016

St. Vincent's expands

By Jesse Hollett, Clay Today

In the past, pop-up privacy screens surrounding patients waiting in the hallways at St. Vincent’s emergency department was an uncommon, but real sight due to the shortage of emergency rooms. However, because of the medical center’s forward inertia towards improved services, awaiting patients might stay where they belong – the past.

St. Vincent’s Medical Center Clay County held a ribbon cutting ceremony Tuesday to celebrate the grand opening of the first wave of expansions scheduled for the hospital – their emergency room. The new wing sits south of the main hospital, and will raise the hospital’s capacity from 110 patients to 150 patients a day.

“Patients have been very receptive,” said Jeff Sapolsky, director of emergency services. “As crowded as we’ve been we’ve been trying to see them anyway we can. We offer them beds at our Jacksonville campuses, and they incessantly deny it, they love us here, they want to stay here in their county. So that’s been really pretty humbling, that they would rather wait in the hall here than go to a room in Jacksonville.”

The 5,500 square foot expansion brings the total size of the emergency department to 19,000 square feet. The expansion also adds 11 treatment rooms to the hospital, giving the medical center 29 emergency treatment rooms total.

The expansion also provides a space for EMS crews to decompress before they head back into circulation, as well as a new patient tracking board that offers a visual layout for new patients upon arrival.

“Our community has embraced us to the point that we recognized that we needed more space to be able to care for them appropriately,” said Tina Caraway, manager of emergency services at St. Vincent’s Clay.

The new wing’s entrance is situated less than 100 feet away from St. Vincent’s helicopter pad, and will assist in the quick admittance of patients in critical condition.

The project took just under a year to be completed, but renovations are still planned at St. Vincent’s. The emergency department was just one leap forward towards the overall planned expansions, which collectively total $33.1 million.

With the completion of the J. Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver Women and Infants Pavilion tentatively planned for late summer, patients can expect to see a new family birth center and more inpatient rooms to compliment the expansion of the emergency department.

“For the residents of Clay County who have been to our ER in the past and maybe experienced a longer wait than they wanted, this increased capacity allows us to treat them faster,” said James Machado, president of St. Vincent’s Clay.

At the cost of $7.5 million dollars, the expansion not only offers quicker wait times for ER patients, but also gives the hospital room to hire 20 new full time employees. By the end of the expansions, the medical center will have hired 100 new employees to fill various different roles around the hospital.

“It expands our capacity,” Machado said. “This is what this is about, we’ve been seeing over 100 patients per day at this ER for a long time, and it sometimes stretches our ability to care for our community. It improves our ability to continue to serve this community, and to grow in the future as Clay County continues to grow.”

When it opens later this year, the J. Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver Women and Infants Pavilion – located inside the tower – will feature eight suites for labor, delivery, recovery and post-partum treatment, as well as two Cesarean section suites and four post-partum suites. There will also be childbirth education, sibling classes and safe sitter training to teach preteens and teenagers how to safely care for infants and other children.

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