Improving the ER

The hoopla surrounding the grand opening is over and now Baptist Memorial Hospital-Union County’s new emergency department is busy with patients.

The $12 million emergency department, located on the back side of the hospital campus, was scheduled to open at 6 a.m. Monday, but actually saw the first patient at 5:57 a.m.

The modern facility replaced a cramped and overwhelmed area that reminded us more of an old-time bus station than a hospital facility.

We were impressed by the way hospital planners managed to make the new facility beautiful and modern with all the latest equipment, while blending it in well with the existing hospital.

The new ER has 22 exam rooms (the old one had seven), two trauma rooms and two triage rooms. It also houses the hospital’s new 64-slice CT scanner, purchased in April.

The hospital had 24,259 ER visits last year, up more than 20 percent during the past three years, according to Walter Grace, hospital administrator.

Although the hospital has undergone several renovation projects, including the women’s center in 2008, the new ER is the first major change in its footprint since a new bed tower was added in 1993. The hospital joined the Baptist hospital family in 1987. It opened in 1966 as Union County General Hospital.

The new ER is just the latest reason to be excited about the continued growth at Baptist. We have said many times how fortunate we are to have a non-profit hospital in the community focused on health care, rather than a private facility focused on profits.

We continue to be proud of our hospital and its commitment to our health.