ER opens Thursday
• Jefferson Hospital invites the public to tour its new emergency room suite
By Parish Howard
"People are just as likely to get seriously injured on the farm as in the city," Rita Culvern, Jefferson Hospital's CEO reasons. "If you are going to survive a devastating car wreck or heart attack in a rural community, you need a state of the art emergency room as close as possible. You need a place where doctors and nurses can deliver the best quality care so that you can hope for the best outcome."
The people of Jefferson County have needed just such facility for some time and this week, Thursday, at 11 a.m. to be exact, Culvern and the Jefferson County Hospital Authority plan to give it to them. The Hospital Authority is planning open house ceremonies and a tour of the new ER to show off the hospital's newest enhanced service to the people it will serve.
"This couldn't be possible without the support of the community," Culvern said. "Wrens, Louisville, Wadley and Jefferson County all contribute to the bond issue that made this construction possible. This is truly Jefferson County's emergency room. Not only is it going to be the best quality facility, but we are going to make sure we will be able to use it to provide the best quality care."
The Old Facility
The hospital's emergency room staff has been treating Jefferson County's suddenly ill and injured in the same space for the past 31 years.
The New ER
In the same cramped 976 square feet the nurses and on-duty physicians have faced and dealt with everything from vehicle accident victims, to minor stitches and dislocated joints to emergency deliveries and heart attack and stroke patients. Anyone who has been unlucky enough to need emergency medical assistance and has visited the county's ER is familiar with the old facility's layout.
"Basically, it was just two rooms and four beds," Culvern said last week, walking through those rooms. "When we were really busy, we could put someone on a bed in the hallway until a room opened in the ER."
In 1995, Culvern said the hospital converted an adjoining operating room to the ER to offer space for two more beds.
"The very next day we had a 17-passenger bus wreck," she said.
Imagine 17 patients, their families and the medical staff in three rooms with six beds and a tiny 8x10 waiting room.
"Whenever we've had a major incident, the hallway is jam-packed with family," Culvern said. "There's no real privacy. The beds were separated by curtains. The worst was when someone would code and the ambulance would bring them and we'd have to start working on them right there in front of the family. The family doesn't need to see that; they don't need the indignity."
Throughout the last 31 years, the hospital has kept the ER stocked with new equipment, like cardiac monitors, but as necessary as it was, it just made the available working space that much smaller.
"Still, even under these conditions, a lot of lives have been saved in our little ER," Culvern said. "Just last year, we had 16 successful codes. That's 16 people who we brought back in just the last year, and that's not including all the life or death situations that never got that far."
The first thing visitors will notice is the size. Comprising 8,760 square feet, the new ER is almost 10 times as large as the old facility.
Replacing the old ER's tiny 8x10 room are three large waiting areas where families can gather while awaiting news of their loved-one's condition. In addition to new funiture and televisions, the waiting area will also have tables and vending machines available.
This area, with its large admissions desk, will also have separate spaces designated for registering ER patients, outpatient registration, xray labs, physical therapy and other admissions.
Of the many improvements, Culvern believes patients may find the increased privacy one of the more reassuring aspects of the new facility.
"People are going to see more privacy, more private rooms with space for family members to stay with our ER patients when the doctors aren't working with them," Culvern said. "You won't have to worry about some other patient behind the curtain hearing the very personal story of what happened to you."
There is also a separate ambulance entrance well away from the general public's entrance and electronic keypads are just one part of the extensive security system that will help keep the general public's traffic separate from the sterilized ER suites.
Where the old ER consisted primarily of three cramped rooms, the new facility has eight patient rooms, three of which are specially set up as cardiac/trauma rooms. One of those three is set up for emergency deliveries. Each of these three is 250 square feet.
The ER also has four other urgent care clinical style rooms. Of these, one is decorated for children with full-color original murals by local artist Jacob Jackson, so children who are waiting for a doctor's attention can pick out their favorite cartoon characters and hopefully, feel less frightened by the experience, Culvern said.
Another is a holding room which is equipped for handling prisoners or patients with psychological problems. A third room is designed as an isolation room or negative pressure room with special capabilities for quarantining highly infectious patients who may come into the ER needing immediate care. The fourth is a triage room that can be used for other purposes in emergencies.
"In a disaster situation we could realistically put three patients in each of the bigger rooms and two in each of the four others, to have as many as 17 on beds at one time," Culvern said.
These rooms are arranged around a 28 foot long nurses' station with a view into every one of the new ER's eight patient rooms.
The construction project also includes an enclosed courtyard which will contain a three-tiered fountain and benches for patients and staff to enjoy.
"We're calling it Helen's Garden," Culvern said. "It's named for Helen Gilmore, a wonderful friend and supporter of Jefferson Hospital."
The facility contains a number of other features, such as an on-premises doctor's lounge with sleeping quarters and a decontamination room with separate ductwork where victims like those in the recent Graniteville train wreck, who have to be separated from other patients, can be treated.
The public will be able to see each of these rooms and meet some of the ER's staff Thursday during the open house.
Woman shot in robbery attempt
• Officers say local restaurant owners wrestled with masked gunman
By Ben Roberts
A Wadley woman is recuperating after being shot in the thigh during a scuffle with a would-be robber shortly after midnight last Thursday morning.
According to Wadley Police Department investigators, Xiaoyu Chen and her husband, Sheng Chen, owners of China Number One located at 111 Butts Street in Wadley, were cleaning the business when a black male, wearing a facemask and brandishing a handgun, confronted Mr. Chen at the rear of the building.
The robber entered the store with Mr. Chen and the couple began to wrestle with the man.
During the scuffle, Mrs. Chen was struck in her upper thigh by a single round fired from the pistol. The assailant then fled the business on foot.
Investigators say the investigation is on going but believe they have a suspect.
Investigators also believe the shooting could be connected to a string of burglaries that took place in the city during the month of January. Those burglaries included the theft of numerous guns and electronics as well as smaller items. They say some of those items have now been recovered and could point to several individuals being involved in the thefts.
Investigator David Way wanted to remind Wadley business owners that they may request an escort from an officer when closing their business at night or carrying bank deposits.
Officers say Mrs. Chen was treated at the Medical College of Georgia and was released within 24 hours.
China Number One is currently closed while the couple is out of town. They could not be reached for comment.
Louisville to get new terminal
• The city has received a nearly $500,000 grant to spur development
By Faye Ellison
Though the Louisville airport has been around for years, the city has found a way to revitalize it, which, in turn they hope will help revitalize Louisville.
Most of the money used on the face lift of the airport has been federal and state grants and a little city money.
Louisville recently received a $499,954 grant from OneGeorgia Authority's Equity and EDGE programs to spur economic development in Georgia's most economically distressed communities.
This page has been accessed
Governor Sonny Perdue recently made the announcement, when City Administrator Don Rhodes, Mayor Byron Burt and other council members traveled to Atlanta to accept the grant.
According to Gov. Perdue, the funds will assist with a variety of economic development projects in rural Georgia aimed at creating jobs, stimulating new private investment, supporting the retention of existing jobs and enhancing regional competitiveness through capacity building projects.
The City of Louisville will use their grant to assist in the construction of a 3,600 square foot terminal building at the airport to replace the old 300 square feet building. The current terminal was built in 1975 and is in very poor condition.
According to Rhodes, the new terminal will serve as the gateway to the region, providing a positive first impression for arriving industrial prospects, corporate management and visitors for the annual Masters golf tournament, area fox hunts and other tourism activities.
The only expense to the city will be to run the water, sewer and gas to the new building.
"This is just one part of an overall airport improvement project," said Rhodes.
The city has already finished other improvements and are looking to have parallel taxi ways for the air strip.
"We feel in order for Louisville to grow, we knew at some point we were going to have to make these improvements," said Rhodes. "The federal and state money are available at this time so we are going to have to take advantage of it."
Louisville Airport is just one of 27 regional airports across the state; Rhodes, the mayor and council members have stressed the significance of bringing the airport up to standards in order to compete.
"Former Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Wayne Shackelford used to always say, 'Industrial prospects visiting the community don't arrive on a Greyhound bus, they fly into the local airport,'" said Rhodes.
The grant period is for 18 months. Rhodes said they hope to have the work complete by the end of the year. Right now architects are working on the final design plans before they begin.
"I feel as the word gets out, the airport will be used a lot more," said Rhodes.
Rhodes noted that the airport will be in the March issue of Auto Pilot, an aviation magazine.