SSH emergency room renovation complete

From Staff Reports

   Sycamore Shoals Hospital celebrated the expansion of their emergency room and their 15th anniversary Wednesday.
   "Our newly opened and expanded emergency department now houses 15 rooms, improved technology and better accessibility," said SSH Administrator and CEO Scott Williams. "With separate ambulance and walk-in entrances, patients can be better served according to their needs in a more efficient, patient-friendly environment."
   SSH has been taking patients since Dec. 6, 1986, shortly after the closing of Carter County Memorial Hospital, and has experienced steady growth over the past 15 years.
   Chris Gillespie, medical director for Sycamore Shoals, the Johnson City Medical Center, and Johnson County Hospital, said the new ER was needed to meet an increased demand for health care in Carter County.
   "We're still working to get staffed up, and we have a few wrinkles left to iron out here and there," Gillespie said. "But we believe we're prepared to accommodate the growing volume of patients coming into the hospital. We hope this is a just a part of continued growth for the hospital. We hope to draw more specialists into the area. But what we're most concerned with is that people feel comfortable seeking health care in their own community. That's important."
   Williams says the old emergency room, which housed only seven beds, simply wasn't big enough to meet present demands.
   "The old emergency room was designed for a patient flow of about 14,000 patients per year. But we've estimated that at least 22,000 patients will pass through the ER this year."
   The new ER also has living quarters and an ambulance bay for members of the Carter County Rescue Squad. Rescue Squad staff have been stationed at the hospital for some time, but were formerly housed on the second floor of the hospital.
   Carter County EMS Director Terry Arnold said having rooms on the first floor of the hospital should help shorten response time during an emergency.
   "It's all about time," said Arnold. "Time means everything. Being right here at the door instead of on the second floor makes a lot more of a difference than you might think.
   "We're really happy the hospital has provided this space for us. I think this will be a real asset to the county."
   The hospital began accepting patients in the new ER yesterday afternoon.