Changes are taking place in and around Sampson Regional Medical Center. Officials at the medical facility have plans in the works to makes things a little easier for the patients and employees.
Some of those changes are visible, others are not — but all will improve the quality of services.
“A lot of people have probably noticed that we are expanding at Clinton Urgent Care,” said the hospitals chief executive officer David Masterson. “That is to accommodate the employer referred patients for their work-related, pre-employment tests, flu shots, follow-ups to post accidents. People on the clock will have a different flow (with the new portion of the building) in Urgent Care that will allow them to get in and out quickly. Most of them just need to see a nurse, not a doctor. So the sick people will be in line to see the doctor; the well people will go through the other line.”
Masterson said the building should be complete in late September or early October.
“It has had some delays,” he said, “but they are working hard on it and it is coming along.”
Internally, officials are working on what they say is a much needed project — revamping the hospitals’ morgue. Masterson said the morgue has a serious space issue and fixing it has been, for one reason or another, continually delayed for years.
“This has been a project that Dr. (Carl) Barr (Sampson County Medical Examiner) has had on the table for about five years now,” explained Masterson. “It has been delayed. But there are some real issues that need attention there.”
The key is remedying the space problems.
“Currently, there is only room for two bodies,” the CEO said matter-of-factly. “And those are two normal-sized bodies. There is a drawer, much like you see in the movies or on television, that the bodies go into and are cooled. An oversized body is not going to fit in there. Since we are seeing more and more oversized corpses, it has become a real issue for us.”
What is being proposed is an area that will accommodate six bodies.
“Car accidents produce more than just two bodies, so it is not unusual for us to have more than two bodies in the morgue to be held and cooled appropriately,” the CEO asserted.
On those occasions, he explained morgue staff work with local funeral homes to accommodate the needed space.
“All of them (funeral homes) have been really great to work with us,” he said. “One funeral home has really stepped up and helped us out a lot. Those things mean a lot to us.”
Because of the lack of space, there is also not a proper place for viewing.
“Some times the deaths do happen out-of-town and they come in here,” Masterson said. “Dr. Barr is the medical examiner for the county, so he can do the autopsies here, but there is no place for viewing. So when the family wants to come in and identify the body, or bereave, there is no place for that. We are going to develop these things so that people can come in and view the body or bereave; have areas where they can do that. “We also want to put it in a place where it is private, like the back area of the hospital.”
But moving the morgue also means relocating the pharmacy, which is part of the plan.
“We are planning on moving the pharmacy into the old physical therapy area, which has been vacant for a while now,” Masterson said. “We also want to completely re-design the pharmacy. Medications have changed so much and medication administration has changed so much over the years, that the work area that was developed (here) over 30 years ago doesn’t work anymore.”
The morgue and the pharmacy revamp will be combined under into one project. “It will be done at the same time,” Masterson said.
Another inside project will be moving the Pediatric Unit. The unit, currently on the hospital’s second floor, is expected to move to the third floor.
“Our pediatric unit was originally funded by Lundy’s and the Fetterman family 25 years ago and we are very appreciative of the support that they have given us over the years,” he said. “But it is time for the unit to be revamped. This is a good time for us to relocate the pediatric unit to the third floor so it will be contiguous to the nursery, which will make more sense.”
The unit will also be dedicated solely to children.
“Right now we have adults on the pediatric unit,” he said. “After we make these changes, it will have no adults, only children. It just makes more sense.”
Funds from the annual Sampson Regional Medical Center Foundation’s annual gala will go to support the pediatric unit move.
“We finished the drawings on the plans and they are headed to the state and were are waiting to get final pricing on it for board approval,” Masterson said. “They will be big improvements.”
Other proposed projects
Masterson said hospital officials were also considering returning lithotripsy to the facility. Lithotripsy refers to the physical destruction of gallstones or kidney stones.
“It is another way to treat without surgery,” he said. “We are talking about bringing it back.”
And more talk is going into relocating the hospital’s Blood Center to the Outpatient Diagnostic Center.
“A lot of people don’t realize we don’t use Red Cross for blood. The blood you get in this hospital came from people in this community,” Masterson said. “A lot of patients choose to use their own blood if they have a surgery coming. We will take their donations and hold them here.”
A lot of people also don’t know that Sampson Regional Medical Center is one of just three hospitals in the state that has their own blood center.
“Currently, it is in the lab and it is not easy to get to, so having it somewhere more accessible would be better for our donors,” he said. “It is great because the blood donated here, stays here.”’
When asked about the Emergency Room renovations, Masterson said those plans will be on hold.
” The Emergency Room is the big project we need, but because of the economy, it is on hold for at least the next couple of years.”
To reach Doug Clark call 910-592-8137 ext. 123 or email to email@example.com.