Open house for CMC’s ER and chemotherapy department

Cambridge Medical Center (CMC) will host an open house on Sunday, Aug. 19, to celebrate the completion of its new Emergency Room (ER) and expanded Chemotherapy/IV therapy department.

Julie Gotham, executive director of the Cambridge Medical Center Foundation; Dennis Doran, president of CMC and Connie Bauer, RN, nurse manager of the ER, invite the community to an open house on Sunday, Aug. 19, to celebrate the completion of CMC’s new Emergency Room (ER) and expanded Chemotherapy/IV therapy department. Photos by Rachel Kytonen

The open house will be held from noon to 3 p.m. and the community is invited to see the new space before it opens for patient care on Sept. 6.

Guests can get a behind the scenes look at the new $10.5 million facility as well as enjoy refreshments, register for a prize drawing, and get a close look at emergency medical transport vehicles, including the LifeLink III helicopter ambulance, a restored 1953 Packard Henney ambulance, and new Allina Health ambulance. There will also be music and gifts for children and each family that attends. 

Guests coming to the open house should look for the tents on the west side of the medical center, on the Fern Street side. Parking is available on the west and south side of the medical center.

“We are happy to invite the community in for a first-hand look at the improvements,” said Dennis Doran, president of CMC. “We’re very proud of the care that our ER and Chemotherapy staff provides and now to be able to deliver that care in a first-class facility is something we are all excited about.”

The new facility includes 16,000 square feet of new space, with much of that space devoted to the ER.

“People will be astonished when they see the space,” said Connie Bauer, RN, nurse manager of the ER. “Comparing the current ER to the new space, they will see a very modern, open space that is welcoming and focused on patient privacy. The size is really impressive, as is the equipment.” 

Much time was spent on the design of the new ER and Chemotherapy/IV therapy department.

“People who work in the ER helped design the new ER,” Doran said. “The ER staff was involved in every detail and in steps along the way.”

Doran noted local contractors were hired for the expansion.

“We hired as many local contractors as we could,” Doran said. “We actually ended up having a number of nurses’ husbands working on the job. Even though some of the construction companies we used were from the Twin Cities, a lot of them do hire local people as well.”

There are a total of 21 patient treatment rooms in the new ER. Thirteen are patient exam/treatment rooms—all private with doors and floor to ceiling walls separating each room. This not only increases privacy and confidentially, but also contributes to a calm healing environment by decreasing noise. Additionally, it helps prevents cross-infection and cross-contamination.

Each patient room is equipped with advanced technologies including computers for quick access to electronic medical records. Rooms have flat screen TVs and lighting that can be lowered for patient comfort. A nurse supply cart with patient care items, IV start supplies, and linen supplies is also located in each room. 

“This expansion will really improve the overall work flow,” Bauer said. “We will be providing the same exceptional care, but just in a way that focuses more on patient privacy and confidentiality, and uses the most up-to-date technology. The ER staff is very excited about this expansion and is good at adapting to the new technology.”

Four trauma/cardiac rooms are specially designed to stabilize and treat critically ill patients. The trauma rooms have advanced technologies and monitoring equipment, including special beds with built-in scales for weighing patients and radiology technology so scans can be taken without moving the patient. Each room can be expanded to accommodate two patients, if needed, for a capacity of eight patients in the four trauma rooms.

There are four secure and separate mental health rooms specially designed for the care and safety of patients needing a safe environment.

A decontamination room can be used for situations involving chemical spills or other hazardous materials. Water used in this space is pumped to a separate holding tank where it is stored until it can be removed by a hazardous waste hauler.

A large, open nurses station with 18 individual work stations is centrally located within steps of each patient room. A color-coded light system helps nurses identify with a quick glance which patient room the doctors are in.

Families of patients will be able to be just steps away from their loved ones. Small sitting areas located near patient rooms allow family to be close yet give patients and medical staff privacy when needed. There is also a private room for families of critically ill patients to wait in, furnished with comfortable furniture and a phone.

The ER lobby is light and bright with lots of windows and an area for children. There are private registration rooms for increased patient confidentiality. To help ensure the safety of patients, visitors, and staff, a security officer will be stationed in the ER lobby 24/7.

The additional space and patient treatment rooms will allow staff to handle patients more efficiently. “Our goal is to have people evaluated by a triage nurse and into a room as quickly as possible,” said Bauer.

“The facility is wonderful, but it’s the staff that really makes the care outstanding,” said Mark Thayer, MD, medical director of Emergency Services at CMC. Five new doctors and many registered nurses and techs have been hired to staff the expanded ER. Twelve ER doctors are now on staff at CMC, dedicated full-time to emergency care.

Before the ER opens for patient care on Sept. 6, ER staff will be rehearsing using the new equipment and facility.

“We’re giving staff the opportunity to spend time in the new space so they know where things are and become comfortable in the new work environment before we open for patient care,” said Bauer.

The medical center’s building project also increased the size of the Chemotherapy department and added a new entrance and registration area for all patients coming for surgery or outpatient services.

For cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and for patients receiving IV therapy, the addition of five large, private chemotherapy/IV therapy suites will make their treatment more comfortable. The new chemotherapy/IV therapy suites have heated, reclining chairs with massage, a flat screen TV, extra chairs for family members, blood pressure monitors, and an IV pump. Each room has a computer for the nurse to enter patient information.

Two new patient bathrooms and a new entrance and reception area are designed for patient comfort and convenience. Patients coming to CMC for inpatient surgery, outpatient surgery, endoscopy, chemotherapy and IV therapy will appreciate the new entrance and reception area for Surgery & Outpatient Services (formerly called Short Stay). Checking in is more private and parking is right outside the door.

Besides adding to the comfort of patients, the new suites were needed to accommodate a growing volume of chemotherapy services. Since CMC added a full-time oncologist a year and a half ago, the number of patients receiving chemotherapy at CMC has increased 53 percent.

“If we weren’t part of a large organization, we couldn’t provide the care and services that we do,” he said. Allina Health contributed $9.5 million for the project and private donations are funding the rest.

“The medical center is a vital part of this community and the community is a vital part of the medical center,” added Doran. “We are grateful for the trust and confidence our community and patients place in us and we are also grateful to be part of Allina Health that has helped us build a first-class facility for our patients.”

“The community has been part of this project since day one,” said Julie Gotham, executive director of the CMC Foundation who spearheaded the fundraising for the project. “We’ve had a tremendous outpouring of support to help fund the expansion. These are services that are near and dear to many people’s hearts, and the community response has been wonderful. The open house is one way we can recognize our donors and thank them and the community for their support.”

Gotham noted the Foundation will be embarking on another capital campaign to help fund the project.

“We do have funds left to raise, but we have received wonderful support from the community,” Gotham said. “We have received great support from our own employees who raised approximately $75,000, as well as from the Memorial Hospital Foundation, Cambridge Medical Center Auxiliary, Schlagel Inc., BJ Baas Builders, Inc. and others.” Gotham noted one of the family waiting rooms in the ER was completely funded by Peoples Bank of Commerce.

Jean Price, marketing consultant for Cambridge Medical Center, contributed to this report.