by Chris Pickup

Dunnville War Memorial Hospital threw a parking lot party Saturday morning to celebrate the final structural beam for the new Emergency Department. Visitors were handed a Sharpie and invited to sign their names on the beam to become a permanent part of the new ED.

Children brought their stuffed toy or doll for a checkup by Haldimand paramedics and had their faces painted, while their parents sipped on a free Timmies coffee or hot chocolate.

The project will be paid for by a combination of fundraising, hospital reserves and a $700,000 County grant. The hospital’s foundation has been working really hard and the hospital “has an amazing set of some 300 volunteers,” said CEO David Montgomery.

The estimated completion date for the $6.5 million project is the end of this year.

The hospital will be able to provide the community with a brand new, larger and more technologically advanced Emergency Department, offering an increased diagnostic and treatment area designed to provide confidentiality, and improve patient flow, safety and security.

The present department was built in 1978 to accommodate 12,000 patients a year but is not adequate to effectively manage the 25,000 patients treated last year. Staff and patients alike have been struggling with a multitude of problems including bad ambulance access through a busy parking lot.

The new department will solve those problems by helping to maintain acceptable wait times, triaging, diagnosing and either treating patients or transferring them to a partnering hospital for higher level treatment.

The new facility will have: 7,146 square feet available, almost three times larger than the current 2,550 square feet; Ten patient treatment areas, compared to the current seven; Twelve stretchers, compared to the current seven; Enhanced sightlines to treatment areas from the nurse’s station; An enclosed ambulance bay, with a decontamination room off it.; An isolation and resuscitation room; Five public washrooms, compared to one currently; A quiet room for nurses and physicians to counsel family members or deliver news in privacy; A hospital lab and education center on the second floor.

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