Hardin Memorial Health (HMH) celebrated with staff, former patients, hospital leadership and community leaders, the completion of a 14,000-square-foot expansion of its Emergency Department (ED) at a ribbon cutting today. HMH undertook the $15 million expansion and redesign to better serve the more than 70,000 patients who visit the HMH ED, Kentucky’s fourth busiest, annually.
The ceremony took place in the newly designed ED lobby. Patients are scheduled to begin using the new entrance and lobby at the end of January. The ED staff will maintain continuous operations during this final transition just as they have during the entire construction project that began September 2015.
HMH President and CEO Dennis Johnson praised the ED team and the community for their support and patience during the construction.
“We know it has not been easy and we appreciate everyone’s support,” said Johnson. “We are thrilled that our patients and this team now have the state-of-the-art facility they deserve.”
Johnson said the former space had been designed to serve 40,000 patients annually, a number HMH had long outgrown.
The expanded ED boasts 65 exam rooms compared to 27 in the former space. The rooms are designed to serve multiple populations including trauma and bariatric patients, individuals with behavioral health needs and victims of sexual assault.
HMH operates one of only four Kentucky emergency departments with certified Sexual Assault Nursing Examiners (SANE). Rooms designed especially for these caregivers and their patients add much needed privacy.
The newly constructed covered ambulance bay has capacity for six ambulances, up from two.
The new ED also contains its own CT scanner and digital X-ray technology. This improves diagnosis speed, especially critical in emergency situations such as stroke. Previously, patients had to be transported to another hospital area for CT scans.
The dedicated entrance and ribbon-shaped design of the space aids in patient safety and security and optimizes work flow. Nature-themed art, proven to aid healing, is incorporated throughout the design.
“The team who cares for patients in this space every day designed the layout and special features,” said HMH Chief Nursing Officer Sharon Wright.
Wright, who previously directly managed the ED and now oversees it in her senior leadership role, said the completion of the project fulfills a long-time professional dream.
“I cannot say enough about the HMH ED team’s commitment to patients and about their skill and expertise” said Wright. “Emergency medicine is one of the most stressful types of care we provide and to serve hundreds of patients a day in the midst of construction is a testament to the team’s dedication.”
Wright noted many members of the ED team have worked in major trauma centers and all HMH ED physicians are board certified.
“We’ve grown the team to support our expanding region and now we have a facility that will better support many patient populations and help the HMH team deliver expert emergency care,” Wright said.
To honor Wright’s commitment to the project, HMH surprised her with a rendering of a quote that will be mounted in the lobby of the new ED. The words ¬quote Wright: “Above all, we are God’s servants and we are here to care for each other.”
Johnson called the piece a fitting tribute to Wright and her passion for patient-centered care.
Some former patients attended the ribbon cutting, including HMH Trustee and Hardin County Magistrate E.G. Thompson. Thompson, who was treated at the HMH ED after suffering a heart attack, was one of five people who took part in the tree-watering ceremony that marked the beginning of construction in September 2015.
Thompson said the end result of the expansion is amazing to see.
“I am alive today because of God’s grace and the team at HMH,” said Thompson. “I am so glad we made this investment for the people of Central Kentucky.”
Hardin County Judge-Executive Harry Berry echoed this thought when he said “This is just one of the many capital investments our healthcare system needs to make to keep pace with the demands of our growing population.”
Berry also praised the city of Elizabethtown for its support of the expansion project, including the permanent closure of part of Woodland Drive to allow for the new ambulance bay.
“We could not have made these improvements and expanded the space without partnership and support,” Berry said.
GBBN Architects designed the space. The firm, with offices in Louisville, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and China, has designed and overseen dozens of hospital projects, specifically emergency departments.
GBBN worked with JRA, which serves as HMH’s master facility plan architect and has a great understanding of HMH’s needs. Whittenberg Construction was the construction contractor for the project.