Work on the unit is about “99 percent” done, according to Larry Steed, executive vice president and administrative operations officer for Tanner Health System.
“There are a few relatively minor punch-list items to be completed and the contractors still have a bit of cleaning up to do, but we expect to take over the unit Jan. 7,” said Steed.
More work will remain once Tanner takes over the unit, including more final cleaning and installing some clinical equipment. Nonetheless, the health system plans to host a public open house to showcase the new emergency department and expanded surgical services unit on Saturday, Jan. 26, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The new emergency department will open for patient care shortly after the public open house, though a date for that opening has not yet been finalized.
The new unit was originally scheduled to open in early September, but a ruptured fire suppression line just two days before the previously scheduled public open house released more than 12,000 gallons of water onto the unit, leaving two inches of standing water in the new space and requiring extensive renovations to repair.
“We’ve had to replace dry wall, flooring, cabinetry, some ceiling in the Clinic Avenue atrium — almost the entire finish in the emergency department portion of the expansion has had to be repaired,” said Steed. “The line that ruptured was designed to deliver massive amounts of water quickly through the sprinkler system, so when it failed, the flow was high volume. We’re grateful to all the Tanner staff and the Carrollton Fire Department for responding quickly and working through the night to save as much of the unit as possible, as well as to the contractors who have been involved in the renovations. It’s been a massive undertaking.”
During the renovation, about 70 cabinets, 110 doors and about 35,000 square feet of flooring were replaced. The entire 35,000-square-foot space also received a fresh coat of paint since much of the drywall in that area was replaced after being damaged by the water.
Most of the clinical equipment was spared from damage — including the new on-unit diagnostic imaging equipment, including the digital X-ray, CT and ultrasound equipment. But all the beds in the new 40-bed emergency department had to be replaced since exposure to water voided their warranties. Some computer equipment also had to be replaced.
“The rupture was detected almost immediately,” said Loy Howard, president and CEO of Tanner Health System. “Staff from throughout the organization responded, along with the Carrollton Fire Department. They rushed in and carried out equipment and computers, lifted furniture away from the water and more. They worked through the night. It was inspiring to see how everyone came together to save this important resource for our community.”
While the new unit has been repaired, patients have continued to be served by the hospital’s existing 24-hour emergency department. With the new unit opening in early 2013, however, patients will have access to about twice as many beds in a unit three times the size of the current emergency department.
“Last year, Tanner provided care for more than 108,000 emergency department visits, and almost half of those came through the emergency department at Tanner Medical Center/Carrollton,” said Steed. “It’s the most-visited emergency department in our system.”
Along with the new emergency department, the expansion at Tanner Medical Center/Carrollton also added significant space to the hospital’s surgical services unit, including three new operating suites and seven additional rooms in the hospital’s expanded short stay unit. The new surgical space also will be available for tours during the public open house on Jan. 26.
“We’re very excited that we will soon be able to make this new space available to our patients,” said Howard. “All of us are touched by the need for emergency care at some point in our lives, if not for ourselves then for someone we know. This new unit features the latest design and state-of-the-art features that will allow us to make emergency care accessible for residents in our region for generations to come.
“We’re also very excited to showcase our new surgical services expansion,” Howard said. “Our region’s growing population and our growing medical staff will be well-served by these additional operating suites, specially outfitted to enable physicians to provide the most advanced minimally invasive surgical procedures available.”
Before the Jan. 26 open house, Tanner staff and other contractors will reinstall artwork and furniture, as well as the aquarium and turtle habitat that was removed following the flood. The contractor that installed the habitat, Just Add Water of Atlanta, removed the fish and turtles and has been keeping them in holding tanks to ensure their safety during the renovations.
Some of the space added with the expansion has been open for months, including Bistro ’49, serving unique sandwiches, snacks and Starbucks coffees, and the new home of the hospital’s Lamplighter gift shop. In November, the new outpatient services atrium along Clinic Avenue opened to the public, providing free valet services for visitors and surgical services patients.
Following the public open house on Jan. 26, crews from Tanner will go through and prepare the new emergency department to care for patients, including cleaning, stocking and outfitting the unit.
“We realize that this is something for which the community has waited a long time, and we appreciate the patience they’ve shown as we built and then renovated the space,” said Howard. “We’re going to make sure it is up to expectations.”