Construction moves along on new lab in Washington

September 9, 2010

Jeanne Theissen, lab manager, leads

staff members through a construction

area that will soon be their new department.

Construction is moving along on the new Laboratory (Lab) at St. John’s Mercy Hospital which will double the size of the existing facility and provide a high-tech work environment for Lab co-workers. The Lab project will also provide new space for the upcoming expansion of the Emergency Department.

“We are very excited to see the progress in the new Lab,” said Jeanne Theissen, Lab manager. “The steel wall jousts are mounted, the wiring and plumbing are done and the drywall is up. It’s not finished, but you can visualize where everything is going once we’re moved in.”

The Lab is where tests are done on clinical specimens, such as a patient’s blood, to get health information that can lead to diagnosis, treatment or prevention of an illness or disease.

“Our Lab performs 34,000 tests each month, with specimens from the hospital, St. John’s Mercy Medical Building, and offices of St. John’s Mercy affiliated and non-affiliated physicians in the surrounding communities,” said Theissen. “We do an incredible volume for our size.”

The 3,606-square-foot Lab in use today is on the first floor, adjacent to the Emergency Department. The Lab under construction is on the second floor. When the new Lab opens in November, it will almost double in size, making way for new technologies and allowing for future growth.

“We are a staff of 38. In the current lab, along with equipment, it’s very crowded,” said Theissen. “The additional space in the new Lab will allow us to expand our services without adding staff because the workspace is more efficient.”

The Lab is the first phase of the Emergency Department expansion. The new Emergency Department will occupy the space that houses the current Lab, the existing Emergency Department and the adjoining corridors. There will be no external construction.

The St. John’s Mercy Hospital Foundation announced in mid-August the “Always Ready”capital campaign to construct a new and expanded Emergency Department for the residents of the Franklin County region. Washington residents Bonnie and L.B. Eckelkamp are co-chairpersons of the campaign. The total cost of the project is $6 million, which includes the costs of moving the Lab. To date, $4.83 million has been secured. The Foundation is seeking $1.2 million in donations to complete the project. 

The reconfigured Emergency Department will expand from 8,400 square feet to 13,700 square feet and from 15 to 29 exam rooms. This will include a dedicated pediatric wing with four exam rooms and a separate waiting room, a trauma and critical care wing to treat patients with significant injuries and life-threatening conditions and a fast-track area with rooms for treating patients with minor injuries and illnesses.

“The new Emergency Department has been designed to allow medical staff to treat patients more efficiently and effectively. The goal is to provide a more comfortable environment for patients and their loved ones while increasing the hospital staff’s ability to serve,” said Dr. Bret Riegel, director of the Emergency Department. 

Dr. Riegel added, “For instance, the Emergency Department sees more than 8,700 children and teens annually. Having a dedicated area to treat pediatric patients, whose medical needs are unique from adults, is a great advantage, particularly in an emergency. Likewise, the trauma and critical care wing will have rooms dedicated to cardiac care because more than 1,300 cardiac patients visit the Emergency Department each year.”

The Lab is accredited with the College of American Pathologists. It is an accreditation that must be re-earned every two years. The St. John’s Mercy Hospital Emergency Department offers a medical staff specially trained and experienced in trauma care. It is the only emergency department within a 30-mile radius and the only Level III Trauma Center between St. Louis and Rolla. It provides medical direction for eight ambulance districts and serves all or parts of five counties and more than 150,000 residents. 

For more information about the St. John’s Mercy Hospital Foundation or the Always Ready campaign, contact Jason Huff, Director of Development at 636.239.8882.

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