Hospital unveils new renovations

Published 12:04 am Saturday, August 29, 2015

NATCHEZ — Merit Health Natchez will open Sunday the area of the hospital closed for its first phase of renovations.

A state inspector approved the work — which is part of an overhaul of the former Natchez Regional Medical Center’s emergency department — Wednesday.

“I didn’t expect to feel as good as I did Wednesday, but it felt really good to finish that phase on exactly the day we said we would,” Merit Health Natchez Chief Executive Officer Eric Robinson said.

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The renovations will include a larger, relocated emergency department waiting room, and will increase the current emergency room bed count from five to seven.

“Our patients will welcome not only the new, aesthetically pleasing environment, but also appreciate the added privacy of doors versus curtains on the exam rooms and the convenience of a fast track area once all renovations are completed,” said Shannon Russ, Director of Emergency Services at Merit Health Natchez.

The new waiting room also includes a consultation room for families or groups that may come in following an accident or other serious incident, Robinson said.

“This is providing a place for families to go and gather instead of being out in the open,” he said. “This provides them a little more privacy.”

With the opening of the first phase, the second phase of the emergency department renovations will start Monday. That phase will include an overhaul of the registration area, the nurses’ station and the four remaining exam rooms.

It will also include the addition of a fast track area for patients with minor injuries or illnesses who can be seen by a nurse practitioner.

The second phase is expected to be completed this fall.

The emergency department renovations are part of a $12 million project to upgrade 34,000-square feet of the hospital space, including in the labor and delivery unit, the long-mothballed fourth floor and surgical units. The work is necessary to bring the facility up to operating standards before the Merit Health system consolidates its two Natchez campuses into one.

Construction on the fourth floor took the walls down to the studs as some rooms were consolidated and showers were added, Robinson said.

“This project isn’t just consolidation supportive, this floor was truly uninhabitable,” he said.

While the renovations are under way, labor and delivery services are being offered at the Merit Health Natchez—Community Campus, as are surgical services.

“I commend the physicians, employees and volunteers at both hospitals for their continued enthusiasm throughout the renovation process,” said Sue Steadman, Merit Health Natchez Board Moderator. “They are dedicated to caring for our patients and an important part of the process as we prepare to combine our two hospitals into a strong, single healthcare resource for the Natchez community.”

Merit Health is a subsidiary of Community Health Systems, the company that purchased both Natchez hospitals in 2014.