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New ER Opens in West Plains

Ozarks Medical Center

Ozarks Medical Center in West Plains has opened a new emergency department. Its ribbon cutting was celebrated with 500 people on Sunday and it officially opened to see patients on Tuesday. KSMU’s Ryan Welch has the story.

The new $6 million facility has 16 private rooms—that’s double the number of the old facility. This includes two trauma rooms and two negative pressure rooms, which prevent contaminated air from spreading. Each of the 16 rooms is equipped with cardiac monitoring and all supplies needed for standard ER procedures. It even has portable imaging equipment, allowing staff to take X-rays in the patient’s room. It can deliver X-rays in as little as 23 seconds.

But it almost didn’t come to be.

Once the exterior of this 13,000 square foot facility was finished, it looked for a while like the interior may never be completed due to a lack of funds. But Community Foundation of the Ozarks came to the rescue, loaning $1 million to Ozarks Medical Center with a very low interest rate. Director of Marketing at OMC Gay Watson says completing the facility was a long time coming.

“The hospital administration, back in the late ‘90s, had a vision of being able to fund and expand the Emergency Department for the citizens of Howell County and the surrounding area. It has taken a long time and a lot of work by a lot of people to make this a reality,” Watson said.

Watson says the new emergency department has provided a boost to the local economy. 87% of the contractors hired for the project are from the West Plains area, and 10 new jobs have been brought to the community.

But Watson says these aren’t even the best aspects of the new department.“We think one of the main benefits will be faster delivery of care and more comfortable delivery of care for the patients that come to see us. In the past, since we had so few beds available, it took longer to get all but the most critical patients into a bed,” Watson said.

The original ER was designed to treat 4,000 patients a year. The last two years, however, have each seen over 20,000 patients treated there.

Watson says the new ER was designed from the patient’s viewpoint, with patient comfort, convenience, and safety in mind. In the private patient care area, for example, the 16 patient rooms surround a centrally located nurse’s station to provide patients with quick access to care.

For KSMU News, I’m Ryan Welch.

Once the exterior of this 13,000 square foot facility was finished, it looked for a while like the interior may never be completed due to a lack of funds. But Community Foundation of the Ozarks came to the rescue. (Photo provided by: Ozarks Medical Center) Ozarks Medical Center in West Plains has opened a new emergency department. Its ribbon cutting was celebrated with 500 people on Sunday and it officially opened to see patients on Tuesday. (Photo provided by: Ozarks Medical Center)