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Nash hospital to unveil $57M project
New emergency department, heart center added




Nash Health Care is getting ready to unveil the largest expansion in the Rocky Mount hospital’s history.

A new emergency department and heart center have been built as part of a $57 million project. The new facilities are estimated to open in mid-March.

They are expected to relieve pressure on an overburdened emergency department built to serve 40,000 patients a year but treating more along the lines of 65,000.

The overall expansion, which features a 90,000-patient capacity in the emergency department, features a total of three new floors. The new emergency department will be located on the ground floor and the Nash Heart Center will occupy the second and third levels.

The new emergency department for Nash General Hospital will have 54 treatment areas compared to 34 in the current center.

The changes include a separate, specialized area in the emergency department for treating pediatric patients.

Nash officials say the new Nash Heart Center will feature the most innovative cardiac catheterization suite technology available. It includes a GE Innova IGS 530, a fully integrated imaging system.

Dr. Dave Varma, medical director of the Nash Heart Center, said new equipment will allow technologists to take excellent images to help the cardiologists treat patients.

Physicians and staff of the heart center are excited about moving into the new facility, Varma said.

And the current emergency department is simply over capacity, officials said.

"It’s one of the busiest in North Carolina,” said Dawn Wilson, communications coordinator.

There’s a chest pain observation unit right above the emergency room and someone with issues can be taken there within seconds, Varma said.

This isn’t the only project Nash has in the works. The soon-to-be-old emergency department will be demolished to make way for a $25 million Women’s Center. The project is slated to start in the spring and be completed late in 2015.

The Women’s Center will include labor and delivery rooms, gynecological surgery suites and birthing suites.

The new emergency department will have two X-ray rooms, one ultrasound room, one CAT scan room, a satellite pharmacy, a satellite lab and a family consultation room. It includes seven Super Track rooms, three triage rooms, five rapid assessment and evaluation rooms with one sub-waiting room, four isolation rooms, two "high-intensity” care rooms, four trauma rooms, six behavioral health rooms and 21 additional treatment rooms.

The separate area for pediatric emergencies is somewhat unique in that it’s one of around eight in the state, Nash officials said.

"Pediatric patients won’t have the same waiting room,” Wilson said. "There’s a separate entrance and treatment area. We see a larger number of pediatric patients than some emergency rooms.”

The pediatrics area will see infants up to 17-year-olds, said Cindy Worthy, executive director of the emergency department.

Twenty percent of the patients at Nash’s Emergency Department are under 17. That translates to about 13,000 patients a year, officials said.

An emergency room can be scary place for kids. "It’s a scary experience for an adult, too, specifically for children put in the mix with adults can be overwhelming to a child,” Worthy said. "This will afford us the opportunity to manage children ... There will be diversional activities for the children to educate them before procedures are done.”

If children come in and they are critically ill, the hospital has one of its trauma rooms set up for pediatrics, Worthy said.

Overall, staff will be increased in the emergency department with additional nurses and physicians as officials project a 10-percent rise in patients in the first year, Worthy said.

Staff will be increased in the Heart Center as well, Varma said.

The primary draw is Nash and Edgecombe counties, officials said. But the hospital also draws patients from Wilson and Halifax counties.

The Nash Health Care Foundation raised $2.7 million for the project. The rest of the money was obtained through the issuance of bonds.

An unveiling and open house for the community is planned for Feb. 2. A ribbon-cutton ceremony is planned Jan. 30 at 2 p.m.

Sarah Heenan, executive director of the Heart Center, said the master facility planning for this project really started five years ago. The staff coordination alone is a massive project.

Heenan said the new heart center will be a one-stop shop for all the hospital’s cardiac services.

More advanced heart services and fast services are vital to patient outcomes, officials said.

The hospital already does stents on an elective basis, Heenan said. The next step is to perform emergency stents.

Larry Chewning, CEO of Nash Health, said this all means local access to state-of-the-art care and a safer place for children to seek emergency treatment.

Nash has an affiliation with Vidant Health for cardiology along with the recently announced overall affiliation with UNC Health Care.

Nash Health Care is a county-owned, nonprofit hospital authority composed of five licensed hospitals totaling 403 beds — Nash General Hospital; Nash Day Hospital; the Bryant T. Aldridge Rehabilitation Center; Community Hospital; and Coastal Plain Hospital.

jjimison@wilsontimes.com | 265-7813
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