MACHIAS, Maine (WABI) Built over 50 years ago -- the Emergency Department at Down East Community Hospital annually treats nine thousand patients -- significantly above the capacity it was designed to handle.
Dennis Welsh, President and CEO of Down East Community Hospital says, "This really offers up a lot of space for our patients. Before we were woefully inadequate with regards to space in the E.D. We often had patients lined up in the hallways. It was very busy. We've seen continued growth in E.D. services here and I think this will create a completely improved environment for our patients."
The new Emergency Department has three times the space...and has grown from six beds to nine.
Welsh says, "Hospitals today, a lot of them were built 30, 40, 50 years ago so, when we look at new construction in the new add on it's up to current times."
Modern upgrades for the facility include a behavioral health room.
Welsh says, "We have folks coming in for detox or other substance abuse issues, so we've created this behavioral health room and it's really kind of a lock-down room that's comfortable and quiet. It's very safe for the patient."
They also have a negative pressure room for folks with infectious diseases and a new decontamination area.
He says, "They're large showers that we can put patients in in case of chemical spills or other emergency disasters."
As the only hospital in a 60-mile radius of Machias, hospital staff say it's a much needed upgrade for the community.
Kevin McEwan, Chief Nursing Officer says, "We are a very busy community -- so there was a demand here in the community to upgrade these services and not have our community drive and hour and a half or two hours to get these services."
Welsh says, "We have one final phase left. It should be about 4 weeks. We'll be 100 percent by the end of October and we'll actually start seeing patients we think early next week in this space."