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Naval Hospital Bremerton unveils newly remodeled ER

Capt. Catherine Wilson, center, commanding officer of Naval Hospital Bremerton, cuts the ribbon to the Naval Hospital’s newly renovated emergency room. The facility officially opened to patients on Tuesday.  - Photo by Rachel Brant
Capt. Catherine Wilson, center, commanding officer of Naval Hospital Bremerton, cuts the ribbon to the Naval Hospital’s newly renovated emergency room. The facility officially opened to patients on Tuesday.
— image credit: Photo by Rachel Brant

After a nearly eight-month wait, numerous sailors and hospital staff members gathered Monday morning to tour the newly remodeled emergency room at Naval Hospital Bremerton.

The $2.6 million remodeling project began in January. The ribbon-cutting ceremony took place Monday morning and the first patients were treated in the facility yesterday.

“If they have to be in the emergency room, this is a nice one to be in,” said Cmdr. Elizabeth Engelman, deputy director of primary care.

The new emergency room increased the number of patient beds from 11 to 14 with more triage space, increased privacy, a separate decontamination area and more open space to allow staff members a better line of sight to patients.

“It improves the privacy of the patients and gives us an absolutely gorgeous facility,” Capt. Catherine Wilson, commanding officer of Naval Hospital Bremerton, told the crowd at Monday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony. “We all have a lot to be proud of.”

The 6,800-square-foot emergency room has a centrally located nursing station where hospital staff can easily view all 14 patient beds.

“It was a bit cramped (before the remodel),” said Doug Stutz, Naval Hospital Bremerton spokesman. “The way that it’s been redesigned, the line of sight is a lot better.”

The larger, brightly lit waiting area can comfortably hold more patients, according to Engelman. The triage area allows hospital staff to discuss patients’ needs in private.

“We’ve seen everything from broken limbs to having a rash,” Engelman said. “We usually see 20,000 to 24,000 patients a year.”

In case of a nuclear or chemical spill, Naval Hospital Bremerton now has a decontamination room. The room has a separate environmentally friendly drainage and septic system.

“We need to be able to take care of somebody in case there is some kind of nuclear or chemical spill,” Stutz said.

Engelman also said the emergency room has space to add patient beds if necessary.

“We can expand our bed capacity in here if something happens,” she said.

The intensive care unit and operating room are located above the emergency room, so patients can be quickly rushed upstairs if necessary.

“We can whisk them right up there in less than a minute,” Stutz said.

The emergency room now has separate locker rooms for male and female hospital staff members. Before the renovation, hospital staff shared a single locker room.

“We were tight on space before, but now we seem to have lots of space,” Engelman said with a smile.

During the remodeling process, the emergency room, physical therapy department, chiropractic clinic and facility gymnasium were temporarily relocated. The emergency room staff continued to provide the necessary medical services, but in a much smaller location.

“(The staff) has been awesome,” Engelman said. “They’ve done wonderful over here.”

Naval Hospital Bremerton serves active duty military, retired military and military family members on a daily basis. Engelman said the emergency room may treat more than 100 patients in a single day.

“This is another important chapter in our goal to provide world-class, family centered care,” Engelman said.

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