Major construction work at Oconee Memorial

In the next couple of years, three major construction projects will take place at Prisma’s Oconee Memorial Hospital. They’ll represent the most building the hospital has seen since the patient tower was completed 10 years ago. Work has already started on one project—the YMCA on property the hospital has made available to the Foothills Area YMCA organization. Ground is to be broken Tuesday next week between the main hospital and the Cancers Center for a facility to train future doctors. And now there’s word a contractor will soon be selected to triple the size of the hospital’s busy emergency department. A Prisma committee, of which Oconee chief operating officer Hunter Kome is a member, will choose between two contractors. The parent board of Oconee Memorial has allocated $12.3 million to add 22 emergency patient rooms. But that’s not all the expansion will entail. There will be a second entrance for ambulances and a streamlined process to handle patients on their arrival. In the new emergency department, no longer will a patient’s first stop be the desk of a registration clerk. The first person an incoming patient will see will be a nurse who will make the determination of where the patient will be seen. Wherever the patient is sent, a registration clerk with a computer on wheels will eventually follow. The current emergency department averages about 40 thousand patients a year. A consultant has told Prisma Oconee Memorial that the hospital likely will see that number increase to 55 thousand in the next ten years. As Kome puts it, anyone who has experienced the emergency department in recent years realizes that the E-D has little option other than to expand. And the fact that three major projects will add to the footprint of the hospital complex in the next couple of years is driving the need, Kome says, for the hospital to build a perimeter road behind the hospital to better facilitate traffic.