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Emergency department renovation in full swing at Yampa Valley Medical Center

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The first phase of about $10 million in renovations to the UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center’s emergency department has wrapped up, said Kalman Szucs, design and construction project manager.

The planning and design phase started about two years ago, with construction beginning in February.

Phase two of four phases is underway, Szucs said, and there will be overlap of phases, in an effort to get the exterior work completed before winter.

Many aspects of how medicine is delivered has changed since the department was built more than 20 years, ago, Szucs noted, and the updates will allow for more efficient delivery, as well as a better experience for both patients and staff. In addition, as codes have changed over the years, the renovation will also bring everything up to the new standards — even though the old design had been grandfathered in and was in compliance.

The renovation will be funded in part from the strategic capital commitments UCHealth made to the medical center when the two organizations joined in 2017, as well as philanthropic efforts from the Yampa Valley Medical Center Foundation, according to hospital officials.

Throughout all four phases, the emergency department has and will remain in operation, said Szucs. And the idea has been to do it in a way in which — as much as possible — the patients don’t even know the building is under construction.

The emergency department’s total footprint will increase by about 2,500 square feet.

The first phase included an upgrade to the behavioral health rooms, which include garage-like doors that can quickly be opened and closed, giving the room flexibility to be used as a standard patient room, as well as a safe room when required for behavioral health needs — shutting off any of the equipment that could present a danger with the flip of a switch.

One of the behavioral health rooms is also now a negative pressure room and connected to a bathroom and shower.

A new large treatment room was added next to the behavioral health room, which will prvide additional space for mutilple care providers to attend to a patient at the same time.

New spaces were built for the outpatient pharmacy and cardiopulmonary area, allowing for additional square footage for the emergency department.

With the pharmacy now located at the main entrance of the hospital, access is easier for both patients and the public, noted YVMC Communications Specialist Lindsey Reznicek.

The second phase will be the largest — comprising about 60% of the total project, Szucs explained.

It will include a new canopy and entry point, as well as added space for physical therapy, counseling and a room designated for use by the sexual assault response team.

There will also be a new care team station where physicians and nursing staff can congregate in one area, which Szucs described as being an enhancement in communication, line of sight and resources consolidated in one place.

In phase three, two new trauma bays will be constructed, as well as a decontamination room, a locker room, a physician on-call room, a staff break room and a space for EMS workers to spend time — whether grabbing a cup of coffee or sitting down to do paperwork.

In terms of exterior elements, Szucs said, there will be separate entrances for walk up patients and for the ambulances, with a new canopy and additional signage.

“It will be more intuitive,” he said, in terms of where people who need stitches can go in, and where high-level trauma patients enter the building. As is, everyone enters in the same place. 

There will also be improvements to the turning radius for ambulances and fire trucks, roofing and snowmelt.

Despite the challenges that COVID-19 has presented on construction projects — in terms of both restrictions and supply chain interruption — the project is on budget and on schedule, Szucs said.

Phase four — the smallest phase — will include the conversion of the old trauma bays into private patient rooms. In total there will be 10 private treatment rooms, along with the two private trauma rooms and two behavioral health room

There’s a big emphasis on improving patient experience, Reznicek said, with added privacy and comfort.

The entire project is anticipated for completion in the spring or summer of 2021.

To reach Kari Dequine Harden, call 970-871-4205, email kharden@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @kariharden.


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