Hospital to receive grant for emergency dept. upgrade

Times Observer file photos Warren General Hospital is receiving a $531,000 Rural Development grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Warren General Hospital is continuing the renovation of its emergency department.

Sen. Robert Casey announced this week that the hospital is receiving a $531,000 Rural Development grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“Every American deserves reliable access to health care, and rural hospitals can be the difference between life and death,” Casey said. “This $531,000 Rural Development grant will ensure Warren General Hospital can continue to serve as a reliable lifeline for so many patients and their families right here in Warren County. With a renovated emergency room, the hospital will be able to improve patient care and reduce the spread of COVID-19.”

The hospital is in the second phase of a renovation.

The initial phase dealt mostly with the front areas — the waiting room and triage.

Those changes were intended to “improve the door-to-provider turnaround time,” CEO Rick Allen said. “It has. By all accounts, a success so far.”

The USDA funding and a $3.7 million state Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) grant are allowing Warren General to move into the second phase.

“This Rural Development investment will be used to complete renovations to Warren General Hospital’s existing emergency room department. The hospital needs larger treatment spaces for patients, including but not limited to patients with COVID-19 or behavioral health concerns. A new heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system is also needed for proper ventilation to help combat the spread of COVID-19 within the emergency room area. Also, upgrades will be made to plumbing and electrical systems in the new spaces. The additional space will help expedite patient care and improve patient outcomes as well as help with the influx of COVID-19 patients.”

Hospital personnel had identified some needs prior to the pandemic and have added some since.

“The behavioral health population in Warren is growing,” Chief Nursing Officer Joe Akif said.

There is one emergency department room dedicated to behavioral health. The renovation will add at least three.

Those rooms prevent a patient from finding easy ways to harm themselves or others.

“It’s a better environment for the patient and the provider,” Akif said.

“This whole project is a modernization,” he said. “We went through the pandemic and really identified some things from a building perspective.”

The emergency department previously had one room set up with negative air pressure — meaning the air from that room did not enter public spaces when the door was opened.

“We are looking to make the entire department negative flow,” Akif said. “In the unfortunate event we have a new virus pop up, we will be better prepared to handle that.”

The hospital has also been approved for $469,000 in USDA grants for new beds and a new records system.

“We’re moving in the direction of electronic medical records,” Allen said.

In all, the Electronic Health Records (EHR) project is expected to cost $2.3 million.

When complete, all of the hospital’s records will be on the same system — Meditech Expanse.

“We are on three different platforms,” Akif said. “We’re going to put all on one single platform — regardless of where you get care in the Warren system.”

Allen said the change will also eliminate extra patient portals. “This will be one single portal.”

“A lot of patients get confused,” Akif said. “Now, it won’t be a question.”


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $2.99/week.

Subscribe Today