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Thu, Dec. 05

YRMC expanding emergency dept. in Prescott Valley

John Amos, chief operating officer at the East Campus of Yavapai Regional Medical Center in Prescott Valley, stands outside the new entrance to the emergency department, which is undergoing a major expansion.<br>
Photo courtesy Ken Hedler

John Amos, chief operating officer at the East Campus of Yavapai Regional Medical Center in Prescott Valley, stands outside the new entrance to the emergency department, which is undergoing a major expansion.<br> Photo courtesy Ken Hedler

Yavapai Regional Medical opened its East Campus on 37 acres off Florentine Drive here in May 2006 to meet growth in the area.

It started with 50 beds and has expanded since then to 74 beds, said John Amos, chief operating officer at the East Campus.

The Prescott Valley campus has undergone other expansions as well, including the opening of the 24-bed Family Birthing and BreastCare centers.

The campus is undergoing its next major expansion: increasing the emergency department from 17 to 24 beds. Phoenix contractor Jokake started work on the project in December 2011 and is due to complete it in March, Amos said.

Amos said a 5 percent annual growth in patient visits -32,000 in 2010 - prompted the decision by YRMC's administration to expand the department in Prescott Valley. The Prescott hospital draws about 34,000 visitors to its emergency department, and expanded its beds from 17 to 24 in 2002, according to YRMC spokeswoman Robbie Nicol.

"One of our goals is top-quality medical care," Amos said as he toured the building Wednesday. "This expansion will help us meet that, and it also helps us provide it in an environment that is more relaxing because there is more room."

The expansion is 85 percent complete, with construction taking place behind a temporary barrier wall to prevent disruption to the emergency department staff, Amos said.

The expansion will add about 12,600 square feet, doubling the size of the emergency department, Amos said. He added construction alone costs $3.5 million, and YRMC is tapping into reserves - not increasing the Yavapai County Hospital District tax rate - to covers the costs.

The expansion is valued at $5.2 million, according to Richard Parker, community development director for the town. The expansion pushes the overall valuation of the East Campus to exceed $300 million.

The expanded emergency department will feature:

• Six fully equipped, fast-track rooms for patients with less serious illnesses and injuries, such as sore throats, ankle sprains and eye infections;

• Five critical care rooms, one of which functions as a trauma room and may be used for emergency procedures and surgeries;

• An X-ray viewing station in the trauma room that allows the doctor to see images without leaving the trauma room;

• Beds that help to prevent pressure sores as well as allow patients to be weighed in beds rather than moving to a scale;

• A second triage area that will decrease waits during busy emergency department times;

• And a new point-of-care testing area for rapid exam results, such as throat swabs, that are ready when the patient is examined.

The expansion means the emergency department is doubling its number of exam rooms to 26, Amos said. He added patients who need to see specialists, such as for neurosurgery, will be transferred to the Prescott emergency department.

The expanded emergency department also features a new entrance to allow access to visitors from inside the hospital. A garden area near the current main entrance will provide relaxation for visitors, and a children's waiting area is planned for young families.

The expanded emergency department also entails hiring an additional physician assistant and nurses, Amos said.

The typical 12-hour shift has 22 employees, Amos said. The staffing ratio is one nurse for four patients at both the Prescott and Prescott Valley campuses, Nicol said, adding that figure is standard for emergency departments nationwide.

Emergency room doctor Mark Lopez said he started at YRMC when it expanded its emergency department in Prescott in 2002, and moved over to Prescott Valley when the East Campus opened.

"I think you have to keep up with the demands of the community," Lopez said. "The demands certainly warrant a bigger emergency room."

Amos said space is available for additional expansion of the emergency department. He said both hospital sites admit more than 10,000 patients a year combined, with the emergency department contributing at least 6,000 of them.

He said ambulances send patients to the Prescott or Prescott Valley emergency departments depending on which is closest and most expedient.

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