Hospital bond would expand emergency room

Monday, May 14, 2007

In 2006 the number of visits to the Elmore Medical Center emergency room was just shy of hitting the 8,000 mark.

In an emergency room with only two regular treatment beds, a cardiac care room and a small procedure room, space is at a premium when treating that many patients, hospital officials said in encouraging voters to turn out for the May 22 hospital bond election.

The hospital is seeking a $23.5 million bond to expand its services and facilities, including the emergency room.

The current emergency room is located in the interior of the hospital without adjoining access to the ambulance entry or a designated triage area of its own. Patients seeking emergency care must wait in the main hospital lobby until a patient care space is available, often needing to provide their personal information to staff in full view of other patients and visitors.

"The situation becomes challenging for staff when the utilization is high," said spokesperson Doreen Krabbenhoft . " Patients must be moved to the outpatient services department (room #14) in the hospital to await tests or for observation to make room for incoming patients."

"This is not an ideal situation for patient care," according to emergency room physician, Dr. Gary Walsh

"Moving patients back and forth is not something patients appreciate and is difficult for staff to manage effectively. The best solution is to expand and provide the space needed to meet the demands of the community for emergency care.

"The Elmore Medical Center expansion plan will significantly increase the capacity of the emergency department to better serve our communities," he said.

The department will expand to eight patient care spaces, be directly connected to the ambulance entrance, and have easy access to parking. The exterior emergency department signage will be clearly visible from the street eliminating patient confusion over where they need to enter.

The emergency department will also have its own waiting area to provide improved patient privacy and allow staff to better monitor patients who are waiting to be seen.

All registered voters in Elmore County are eligible to vote in the special general obligation bond election on Tuesday, May 22.

Absentee elector's ballots are available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Elmore Medical Center Specialty Clinic, located at 980 N. 6th East St. in Mountain Home through May 21.

A community information center has been established at 560 N. 6th East St. (Dr. Bledsoe's former office). The office will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays through May 19.

A hospital informational video also can be seen on the website at

For more information on the full hospital expansion plan and the bond election, contact Krabbenhoft at 580-2673.

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