TROY – The entrance to the Emergency Department at FirstHealth Montgomery Memorial Hospital had been a problem for a long time.
The ramp leading to the hilltop-built hospital was steep and old and no longer met building codes. The entrance, original to the 60-year-old hospital, was uncovered – exposing patients in wheelchairs and on stretchers to rain and worse – and unattractive.
Each of those problems will be erased with the completion of a $124,000 renovation project that will give the entrance a new look and a more manageable grade. Uwharrie Builders LLC of Montgomery County has the contract on the project, which is expected to be completed soon.
“The ED project will greatly enhance the outside access for all ED patients as well as for patients being transported from inside out to the mobile MRI and mobile Nuclear Medicine units,” says hospital President Beth Walker, R.N. “These patients have been exposed to weather in the past. Now all of the transportation routes will be under a new canopy. The same for EMS ambulance patients coming or going – now they can be loaded and unloaded under cover and not get wet.”
According to Nursing Director Susan Davey, R.N., the old ramp has been removed and replaced with a ramp that has a longer grade in keeping with code. One of the few “hiccups” to the project occurred with the removal of the solidly built old ramp.
“Getting some of the concrete out was an ordeal,” Davey says.
Walker expects the new construction will greatly improve the appearance of the entrance. It will also be a welcome change for hospital employees and EMS paramedics who transport patients through the area.
“The old ramp was shorter with more slope and very physically stressful on whoever was pushing a patient,” she says. “For years, this issue has come up in every employee feedback opportunity we have had. We have also had employee back injuries related to pushing patients up this ramp.”
According to both Walker and Davey, just-retired FirstHealth CEO Charles Frock noticed the problems with the ED entrance during a summer visit to the hospital. After learning that the actual cost of the project would be several times the budgeted amount, Frock approved additional funding “to make it happen,” says Walker. He also visited the hospital after the project got under way and took an interest in assuring that it was going well and would look nice while improving access for patients and staff.
“I think our staff had given up on this ever being a reality, and I am so excited that this is under way,” Walker says. “Now the first impression for ED patients arriving in the ED parking lot will be a nice entrance that is more functional and that leads them inside the hospital for excellent emergency care.”