Washington’s emergency room expansion is underway

Published 5:23 pm Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Vidant Beaufort Hospital officially broke ground on its $17 million emergency department expansion.

The new state-of-the-art facility will boast a 30-percent expansion in space and will be completed in a two-phase process, the first of which has already begun.

In phase I, a new 9,000-square-foot emergency facility will be constructed facing Highland Drive, adding 12 beds and a power plant to support the facility, according to Vidant Beaufort President Harvey Case. That phase is slated to reach completion next summer.

The new facility will include 16 patient rooms designed for specialized care for trauma and behavioral health patients, according to a press release.

The second phase will involve a complete renovation of the existing, 3,500-square-foot facility, and patients and staff will move into the newly constructed portion during this phase, Case said. This phase is expected to take eight months.

Case said this expansion project will bring much-needed improvements to Vidant Beaufort and be a facility of which the staff, patients and community can be proud.

“I think we’re all going to be excited about that,” he said.

For many medical professionals, this expansion was a long time coming.

Dr. Anthony Frank, medical director of the emergency department, said the last renovation took place in 1989, when the department saw approximately 9,000 patients each year. The department now sees around 24,000 patients each year, according to hospital data.

“Emergency medicine has really changed in that period of time,” Frank said. “It’s going to be a much more organized treatment space.”

Frank said the space in which the emergency department operates now was not built to handle such a large capacity — a point to which Manager of Emergency Services Nat Gladding can attest.

Gladding said the lobby is often full, and sometimes there are not enough rooms to accommodate the patients. The expansion will help to ease that stress.

“It allows us to provide that best care to our patients,” Gladding said, adding that it would give the staff a better working environment, as well.

Lindsey Crisp, chairman of the hospital’s Director’s Council, said Vidant Health has invested more than $40 million in facilities and equipment in Beaufort County during its seven-year tenure in the community.

“What they do every day is important and appreciated,” Crisp said.

Vidant Beaufort’s emergency department will remain open during the construction and operate as normal.