ER work continues at DMC

The Inter-Mountain photo by Brooke Binns Robert Barton, right, and Jacob Daniels, left, of Smith Backhoe and Dozer Service, work inside Davis Medical Center on the construction of the new state-of-the-art emergency department.

ELKINS — Progress is continuing on the construction of Davis Medical Center’s new emergency department, which is expected to be completed later this year.

To enhance patient experience, an expansion project and renovations began in May 2017 at DMC, and work is expected to be completed by late summer.

Tim Thorpe, emergency department nurse manager, said the emergency department will double in square footage once the project is completed.

The renovation and expansion will include an increase from 15 beds to 24 private rooms, two trauma bays for critical care, a decontamination room, shorter wait times through a “Fast Track” protocol and a new waiting area and meditation room.

“We’re going to go to all private rooms which will enhance patient experience — everything from infection control, to sound, to privacy,” Thorpe said.

Dave Gidley, senior charge registered nurse, said he believes the noise reduction and privacy will be a positive change for patients.

“The new space is going to be accommodating for everybody — patients and staff,” Gidley said. “I think the biggest benefit you’re going to see is the privacy and noise reduction. When you have four rooms that are only separated by curtains, there is a lot of extra noise going back and forth, so two of the biggest benefits are going to be noise reduction and privacy for patients.”

Tracy Fath, vice president for marketing and development, noted DMC strives to keep patients and hospital visitors comfortable by offering ear plugs, hand sanitizer, warm blankets and parking instructions at the entrance.

Mike Bell, director of the Davis Health System Foundation, said changes being made to the emergency department have already improved patient experience.

“The Process Excellence Team that looked at patient experience from the time the patient arrives until they are discharged home, admitted to Davis Medical Center or, if necessary, transferred for care — they looked at every point of contact in that experience, and improvements are already in place,” Bell said.

He went on to say the team analyzed experiences by conducting surveys or even following along with patients throughout their time at DMC to see how work done by employees could help improve the experience of patients.

“It was a great opportunity, because we didn’t have to wait for construction to be completed to see these improvements happen and improve patient experience,” Bell said.

The team will continue to address patient experience throughout the duration of the project, as well as once work is completed.

In addition, he said the fundraising campaign for the emergency department has raised $1.4 million toward the $2 million goal for the completion of the project.

“This is a critical need for our community, and I think when people support a cause they like to see it make a difference for their neighbors and their family,” Bell said. “No gift is too small, and the final $600,000 is doable, so we encourage the community to be a part of that.”

Steve Johnson, support services director, said funding donated by the community for the project is helping to put money back in the local community. He said contractors working to complete projects are from Elkins and surrounding areas, adding there are 25 contractors working on the entire project.

“That’s not to say we are giving these jobs away — contractors bid on the projects, but we really feel strongly about working local people,” Johnson said.

Bell said community concerns were taken into consideration during the planning portion of the project.

“One of the spaces that the community told us they wanted was the meditation and counseling room because, unfortunately, every visit to the ER does not result in being treated and sent home, so when there are difficult decisions to be made or a family has to receive bad news, this will be a place for them to go aside and talk to a chaplain, social worker or physician in a more private space than the waiting room,” Bell said.

“The meditation room will be a quiet area where we can have conversations with parents and loved ones related to illness or injuries,” Thorpe said. “It will allow us to have consultations if we have to use case management to come in and talk to somebody.”

Thorpe went on to say a security desk will improve on the safety of the already secure area.

“We’re already a locked unit, so it’s even going to be tighter — it will really increase and improve security for that department,” he said.

Johnson stressed the importance of a decontamination room within the ER.

“We’ll be able to isolate and not shut our ER down. A lot of hospitals cannot isolate the real bad stuff if it comes in, and we’ve never had anything like that come into our facility — but we have to be prepared for it,” Johnson said.

Johnson said the last renovation project took place in 1994.

“We’re not building for next week; we’re trying to anticipate what the needs and requirements are going to be for a few decades or more,” Bell said.

The DMC Emergency Department sees approximately 30,000 patients each year, according to Thorpe. In addition, Fath noted this number is consistent with the national average.

More information about Davis Health System is available online at or by calling 304-636-3300.