St. Albans’ emergency department getting an upgrade

Published: Apr. 5, 2023 at 9:42 PM EDT
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ST. ALBANS, Vt. (WCAX) - Emergency services at Northwestern Medical Center in St. Albans are temporarily moving to a new space to allow for upgrades that will allow it to keep up with the area’s growing population.

The hospital’s emergency department is empty for the first time in nearly 33 years after everything was moved to the former ICU space on Tuesday. Since its opening, very little has been done to expand or upgrade the department.

“We go from 14 rooms to 20 rooms,” said Jonathan Billings, the hospital’s COO. He says NMC is investing $11 million to renovate its emergency department. “It’s overdue. A long time coming. ...We had to shelve it because of COVID. We had hoped to break ground in 2020, but that was not the time to tear up an emergency department.”

JoAnn Manahan, director of emergency services at the hospital, says the expansion will drastically improve patients’ experiences. “We’ve been having patients in the hallway with no privacy for a lot of years,” she said.

The 2,400 square foot addition to the emergency space will also have more capacity for negative pressure rooms, which prevent the spread of infection, and additional mental health resources. “We only have one saferoom for them currently,” Manahan continued. “We’re building two saferooms and two convertible rooms, so if we need them, we’ll have them.”

While the work is being done, emergency services won’t be moving far. They’ll be in a temporary space around the corner from the emergency department where the hospital’s former ICU was.

Billings says they plan to wrap up construction in September.

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