Hospital to rebuild entrance

By Joe Smillie
Forum Editor

After years of having families of inpatients dodge hurried crews of medics to get through the front door, Forks Community Hospital will build an entrance separate from the ER doors early next year.


“They haven’t hit anybody yet,” CEO Bill McMillan said. “But we need to eliminate the possibility that could happen.”


A $1.2 million master entrance will be built, to include a lobby and large waiting room for friends and family of those admitted to the hospital.


McMillan said the plan is to build the new entrance near where the canopy is outside the current entrance.


Funding comes primarily from a grant the state Department of Commerce awarded the hospital through the city.


Rod Fleck, city attorney and planner, said the Commerce grant amounts to roughly $600,000.


McMillan said the hospital will pay the rest out of its operating revenues.


In addition to separating the ER from the hospital’s front door, McMillan said the new entrance also will give the hospital “surge capacity” to handle a sudden influx of patients.


“We haven’t had any mass casualties here in the past, I know,” he said. “But we need to have something if a number of injuries hit at the same time.”


The space could be used to prep patients in the event a large number of people are injured in a mass accident such as a bus wreck or a plane crash.


“We need a place inside for the winter months. You can’t be triaging people outside,” McMillan said.


The hospital hopes to pick an architect in September to design the building, with contractor selection in November.


The plan is for construction to begin next May and end in early fall 2014.
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