State Sen. Williams tours Day Kimball Emergency Department

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Putnam - posted Fri., Jun. 28, 2013
State Sen. Don Williams listens as Director of Emergency Services Ralph Miro talks about changes to come in the ED. Looking on is Dr. Steven Wexler and RN Pat McLaughlin. Photos by D. Coffey.
State Sen. Don Williams listens as Director of Emergency Services Ralph Miro talks about changes to come in the ED. Looking on is Dr. Steven Wexler and RN Pat McLaughlin. Photos by D. Coffey.

State Sen. Don Williams, Jr. (D-29) made his way through the Emergency Department at Day Kimball Hospital on June 27. He spoke with patients, getting out of the way as a woman was wheeled into a room. Space is tight at DKH's ED, but that will change in the next two years, as it undergoes a construction and renovation project that will add 3,800 square feet to the current footprint.

Williams was on a tour of the facility sponsored by the DKH management team and Emergency Department staff. The tour was part of DKH's “Care in a Heartbeat Campaign” to keep the public apprised of the progress of construction of the new Emergency Department.

On June 21, Williams announced that the state’s Bond Commission approved $3.5 million in funding for renovations to the ED. The funding was a critical piece in the ongoing work at DKH. Without it, construction and renovation efforts would have been delayed, according to Robert Smanik, DKH president and CEO.

“We are very appreciative of the senator’s support of and interest in this critical effort,” said Smanik. “The expansion and upgrading of our emergency department is an important part of an overall, systemic vision to continue to meet the healthcare needs of the people of northeast Connecticut.”

The construction of a new addition will be the first phase of the project. When it's complete, renovation of the existing space will take place. “At no point will there be fewer rooms than there are today,” said Steven Wexler, Emergency Department M.D.

When finished, the ED will boast 24 examination rooms, two resuscitation rooms, and a double triage room. The resuscitation rooms will be larger rooms for treating victims of trauma, including stroke and heart attacks. The double triage room will have two bays. “Usually there's more than one patient in a motor vehicle accident,” said Director of Emergency Services Ralph Miro. The additional space will allow for a team of nurses, technicians and physicians to treat the patient or patients.

All of the examination rooms will be larger and all will have the same complement of medical equipment. A cart system will enable staff to bring the necessary medical equipment to the patient. DKH has already been designated a primary stroke center by the state. DKH staff can connect with a neurologist at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center via telestroke. “It's been an amazing initiative,” said Miro.

“Local doesn't mean isolated,” said Wexler. “Day Kimball's ability to connect with tertiary centers means there is no trade-off for high-level care for area residents.” 

Five ED rooms can be dedicated to patients with behavioral health issues, if necessary. The rooms have a full complement of medical boards but they are designed so that the equipment can be closed off for a patient's safety. The false walls will work much like garage doors. That section of five rooms can also be closed off. “If a patient is having an episode, we can close it off so as not to disturb others in the ED,” said Wexler.

“I'm proud of DKH,” said Williams. “It's a critical cornerstone for the community. Who knows when any of us will need it? It's reassuring to know a first rate facility with a first rate emergency department is here in our midst.”

Approximately 27,500 patients visit the DKH ED per year. The new addition is expected to be completed in the spring of 2014.

Renovation of existing space is expected to be completed in the spring of 2015. Signage and rerouting of hospital traffic is expected to start in the fall, according to DKH Vice President of Marketing and Communications Sara Brandon. Patients visiting DKH for imaging and outpatient procedures will eventually be routed through a different entryway. Currently those patients come through the ED for their tests.

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