IRON MOUNTAIN, Mich., (WJMN) – On Thursday, September 17 the Board of Trustees for Dickinson County Healthcare System approved a plan to renovate the Emergency Department at Dickinson County Memorial Hospital.
Joe Rizzo, director of public relations, says that they will be adding glass partitioned private treatment rooms with negative air pressure, a high-level respiratory triage area, an updated HVAC system, and new flooring.
Rizzo says COVID-19 brought some things to light that helped them look further into their plan and add things that could make the emergency department even safer. Emergency room physicians, the emergency room manager and other healthcare officials contributed to the discussion on renovations.
“We want to provide a safer environment for our patients, we also want to improve the patient experience,” said Rizzo.
Plans for the emergency department renovation began before COVID-19. Rizzo says they were considering what they needed to do to make the emergency department more patient-friendly while improving the security and safety of their patients.
“Then COVID-19 hit and kind of put all of our moves on hold for a little while but we were forced to make some changes in our ED based on ways in which we had to treat COVID-19,” said Rizzo. “For example, having what they call negative air pressure rooms available to help prevent any air that could be I guess contaminated from escaping the room.”
Some plans that were already in the works also contribute to measures that are mindful to COVID-19. According to Rizzo, they were already planning to add glass partitioned private treatment rooms.
“Right now our treatment rooms are separated by a curtain and they don’t really give the privacy that our patients want and need and we’ve heard our patients reach out to us on occasion about that,” said Rizzo “And we realize that it could be a much better experience for them with the glass partition walls but now with COVID-19 it adds an added element of safety.”
Rizzo says some cosmetic renovations will be completed as well as new flooring, which will increase sanitation efforts in the emergency department. Two other critical renovations are an updated HVAC system and the high-level respiratory triage area.
“The heating and cooling in there that, you know, that’s critical in the emergency department because, well really in the hospital in total, but in the emergency department because of some of the compromised states that our patients may arrive in,” said Rizzo.
The project plan is currently under review to ensure that it complies with guidelines for a healthcare system. Simultaneously, an architect is working on renderings of what the physical space will look like. After the review process, Rizzo says they will look for contractors who can complete the work.
“They put that out for a bid for proposal and then people get an opportunity to bid on it,” said Rizzo. “We want to make sure we’re fair to the local businesses that they have an opportunity to bid for these jobs.”
After the bids are placed, contractors will be selected and construction will begin. Rizzo says the project will be completed in phases so that emergency department operations won’t be affected.
“We’re able to carefully do that to make sure that we don’t inconvenience the patients, that we don’t jeopardize the level of care that they receive,” said Rizzo.
Rizzo says the emergency department is an essential part of the community. He wants their patients to know DCHS will give the best care they can and that they’re working to improve care and overall experience.
“We’re proud to be a provider of that service you know 365 days a year 24 hours a day seven days a week,” said Rizzo.
Funding for the project is in part from the capital projects budget and money provided by the CARES act.