A local charitable group that has been giving money to Mercy Memorial Hospital for more than 70 years has given nearly a quarter of a million dollars to improve local health care.
The Mercy Memorial Hospital Association donated $249,894 to add fast-track emergency rooms and a safe room for suicidal or homicidal patients.
“It’s a great facility for the city of Urbana. We needed to upgrade our emergency facility,” City of Urbana Mayor Bill Bean said Wednesday. “The Mercy Foundation board donating the money to put this all this together has just been great for the city of Urbana. Needed desperately.”
There are four new fast-track emergency rooms to help deal with patients that do not need all the tools of a traditional ER room.
Patients who come with coughs, colds or sore throats will no longer have to wait in the lobby while physicians deal with sicker patients, emergency department team leader Amanda Brannon said.
In the three weeks they have been using the new space, the emergency room’s “left without being seen” rate has decreased by half, according to Brannon.
The hospital’s medical director, Joan Kolodzik, said these new fast-track beds will help with patient flow and patient throughput for the hospital.
“Less time spent in the lobby, faster triage, faster treatment, faster discharge and that all adds to a better patient experience,” she said.
Kolodzik said emergency room wait times were one of the most common complaints the hospital had.
The other major addition to the hospital was a new safe room for behaviorally challenged patients.
The idea behind the room is there is nothing the patient can hurt themselves, staff or visitors with. Nurses can lock all the medicine cabinets in the room, and there is audio and video surveillance in the room.
The room is for suicidal and homicidal patients.
“Those patients do walk through our doors, and we are committed to take care of them in a safe manner, but we just didn’t have that before,” Kolodzik said.
Besides providing better patient care, the Mercy Memorial Hospital Association hopes this helps the Urbana economy.
The four trustees of the board are Ed Stocksdale, his son Greg Stocksdale, Bob McConnell and Jim Wilson. David Smith is the trustees’ medical adviser and helps them find the best way to allocate the money to the hospital.
The association bought the land where the hospital is now in 1941, but the building was delayed until 1954 because of WWII.
The money the group donated this year all came from stock earnings of the group’s fund for the hospital.
They take great pride in investing in the hospital, because they remember a time when the Mercy system thought about leaving Urbana. They said the hospital is special to them and the Urbana community, because it was originally funded and continues to be improved by the citizens of Urbana, not the government or a business.
“A lot of communities can’t say they have a hospital,” Jim Wilson said.
The mayor said the hospital is important to Urbana, not only for the local health care, but it also helps economic development.
“Having a hospital like this and having Mercy system here tells prospective businesses, we are here and we are here for you. It makes it more of a community having our own hospital,” Bean said.