ER at St. Joe’s closes doors

PARKERSBURG – With the closure of the emergency department at the St. Joseph’s Campus of the Camden Clark Medical Center, officials at the new consolidated emergency department at Memorial Campus are ready to take on the emergency needs of the community.

Operations officially ended for the St. Joseph’s emergency room at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

A group featuring a number of former employees gathered for a brief candlelight vigil in the hospital’s courtyard as the closing went into effect Tuesday evening. Sister June Souder, pastoral care practice manager, said the gathering was a private affair among some of the department’s former employees.

Many of the people who had worked for years in the St. Joseph’s emergency department wanted to work the final shift Tuesday, said Susan Abdella, the emergency department director for CCMC.

“Many of them wanted to spend the last moments there,” Abdella said.

The closure of the St. Joseph’s emergency department is part of efforts to consolidate the two facilities that make up the Camden Clark Medical Center. Plans call for the St. Joseph’s Campus to be closed down by the end of November. The professional building at the St. Joseph’s site remains open and occupied.

Starting today, the entire emergency staff will be working solely in the Memorial Campus emergency department where before they had been split between the Memorial Campus and the St. Joseph’s Campus.

For several months, work had been underway at Memorial Campus to expand the emergency department to convert an observation area into space for 15 more beds and an inner waiting area, Abdella said.

The new space has been in use since July 15.

Work is underway to have a lab facility put in the new emergency department that is expected to be operating in September.

“The emergency department will have its own lab processes,” Abdella said of the improvements in patient care being made in the consolidated emergency department.

Work has been done to reduce patient wait times and to better assess patients coming into the emergency department, she said. Things like patient service level needs and complaints will be looked at so those who are less sick can still get through in a timely manner while the critical/trauma cases will be continually worked on, Abdella said.

“We are working so people don’t get lost in the chaos,” Abdella said. “We are also working to keep a patient’s stay to a shorter amount of time. We are looking at what the need is to provide the quickest and the most quality care to our patients.”

People have been worried that with the two emergency departments consolidating into one that wait times will be longer, Abdella said.

With the entire emergency staff under one roof, she believes the added capacity will actually be speeding up the process without having to make transfers between the two facilities and other issues that have come up in the past.

“The quality of care doesn’t change,” Abdella said. “It is still there.

“We are just bringing it all together to provide a better continuum of care to our patients,” she said.