New emergency department up for vote on April 4

April 01, 2009 at 11:44 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

On April 4, the fate of a new emergency department at the St. Charles Parish Hospital will be in the hands of parish voters.

The hospital is attempting to borrow $11.5 million to refinance existing bonds and construct a new building to house an expanded emergency department. The proposal does not involve increasing the hospital's current bond millage tax rate of 2.46 mills.

If the hospital receives voter approval to borrow the money, $6.3 million will be used to refinance bond debt. The remaining balance of $5.2 million will be used to build a new emergency department and fund other supportive departments and equipment, including ambulance units.

A new emergency department is something that is sorely needed in St. Charles Parish. The current department only consists of six beds and the hospital registered close to 12,000 patients last year alone. Because of that, wait times at the hospital can stretch to an hour or an hour and a half depending on the circumstances.

A new state-of-the-art emergency department, which is estimated to be more than three times the size of the current department, will mean shorter wait times, larger rooms and more patient privacy for parish residents, who make up 76 percent of the hospital's patients. The new department would also be designed to eliminate hurdles with getting patients to emergency beds, create multifunctional treatment spaces to increase flexibility, and build out alternative care settings to divert patients who do not require emergency care.

And a new department couldn't come at a better time.

According to the Health Care Advisory Board, demand for emergency care has surged over the past decade while the total number of emergency departments across the nation has declined, mainly due to hospital closures and mergers.

Residents can vote on the issue on April 4 from 8:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. at either the courthouse in Hahnville or at the Artebury Building in New Sarpy.

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