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|Paynesville Press - October 31, 2001|
PAHCS switches emergency entrance
Starting today, emergency visits to the Paynesville Area Hospital will need to use a different door.|
The Paynesville Area Health Care System is in the midst of a $7.4-million, 20-month remodeling and expansion project that includes the addition of a new emergency wing. That wing, while not yet completely finished, will have to be used as an entrance by emergency patients, after-hour visitors, and night-shift employees.
Patients and visitors to the Paynesville Area Hospital shouldn't let appearances deceive them. For the next month, this rough doorway will be the emergency entrance to the hospital.
The problem is the final addition for the project needs to enclose the current emergency entrance on the north side of the facility. Work on that final addition needs to start before the onset of winter. "In order to get started, we have to eliminate this entrance," explained Bev Mueller, patient care administrator for PAHCS.
The new emergency wing is on the west side of the PAHCS complex, with access from Stearns Avenue instead of First Street. Patients, visitors, and staff will have to enter through a temporary door in the new wing whenever the clinic is closed: after 8 p.m. on weekdays, after 12 noon on Saturdays, and on Sundays.
The door to use is also temporary, constructed of rough boards rather than the final finished entryway. Mueller said they hope to have the permanent door in a couple weeks and hope to have the entire emergency wing finished in a month.
"Hopefully, within that month, we'll get all these rooms ready and be able to use them," said Mueller. The addition also needs to be inspected by the fire marshal and the health department before it can be used for emergency medicine.
After-hour patients and visitors will have to follow the signs to the nurse's station in the hospital, where PAHCS staff will direct them to the emergency room. For security reasons, people seeking entrance may have to buzz the nurse's station to gain entry.
Using the new wing as an entrance was not in the original plan for the remodeling project, but became a necessity when progress lagged. The project was delayed by the contract default by its plumbing contractor in June and has not recovered, lagging at least a month behind schedule, according to Mueller.
The groundwork for the last addition needs to be completed before the onset of winter.
PAHCS can't put off this addition without massive changes to its intricate construction schedule. Interior remodeling for the project hinges on relocating certain departments to the new additions. Plus, PAHCS must remain operational throughout the work.
Plus, it needs to get this last addition enclosed in order to start remodeling work this winter. Heating an open structure through the winter is not in the project's budget, said Mueller.
"Ideally, we wouldn't have to start the addition until this (wing) was done," said Mueller, "but we're running out of time, and time is of the essence."
In the best interests of the project, patients and staff will have to put up with some inconvenience over the next month. Mueller praised the PAHCS staff, residents, patients, and contractors for their cooperation so far in the project. The pervading attitude, according to Mueller, is: "It's going to be better when it's all done."
PAHCS's remodeling project started last spring and is expected to be finished in the fall of 2002. It could now take 20 months to complete instead of the 18 months originally expected, said Mueller.
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