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Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth Hitchcock Keene (CMC/DHK) is beginning a renovation and redesign of its Emergency Department today to address the increasing number and complex needs of emergency patients in the Monadnock Region.  

Cheshire Medical Center submitted a “Certificate of Need” (CON) application to the NH State Department of Health and Human Services and received approval from the CON Board to renovate and expand the Emergency Department (ED) to improve its layout and design efficiency.  CMC/DHK’s Emergency Department and Facility Services teams have been working closely with architects and contractors over the past year to plan space that will improve patients’ care experience.

The renovations will provide:

  • universal treatment rooms for all ED patients, providing improved patient privacy
  • improved space to care for behavioral health patients
  • design features that increase patient and staff safety
  • a design that will accommodate enhanced technology, such as Tele-health, that will benefit acute care patients.

DEW/MacMillan of Keene has been selected as contractor for the project.  DEW/MacMillan will begin construction staging and site work today and actual construction in the ED will begin Monday, May 12.  The renovations will progress through different phases until completed in the spring of 2015.

Art Nichols, CEO for CMC/DHK, says, “The expanded and improved facility will provide patients and family members, as well as our caregivers, with an environment where decisions and treatment can occur in a setting more conducive to healing. As the only emergency department in Cheshire County, these design improvements are critical.”

Emergency medicine and standards of care have changed significantly since the ED was last updated.  Emergency patients’ needs have also changed, becoming increasingly complex. And in recent years, the number of patient visits has grown from 20,000 to more than 25,000 annually, while the number of patient visits on any particular day can fluctuate greatly.

Drastic reductions in state funding for mental health services have imposed special demands on CMC/DHK’s Emergency Department. The ED is now serving over 50% more mental health patients in crisis, for longer periods of time, until appropriate placement becomes available. The current ED was not designed to meet these patients’ unique needs. The renovation is intended to reduce stress for mental health patients, their families, caregivers, and the other patients being treated in the ED.

Phase I of the project includes constructing a small addition to the front of the building adjacent to the ED. This will require heavy machinery, including a crane. In consideration of patient comfort and convenience, crane work is being planned to occur on weekends, when campus patient volume is lower, beginning May 17.    

Throughout the construction process, there will be periodic need to change the traffic flow on the medical center campus, and when this happens, the Contractor and Campus Safety/Security will have personnel directing and assisting motorists and pedestrians in the adjacent parking lot.

CMC/DHK will seek community support and grants to help fund the cost of the ED renovation/expansion and the Healthy Monadnock 2020 initiative.