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Kennestone Hospital preps for the opening of new emergency department

A new multi-million-dollar emergency department is just a few weeks away from opening in Cobb County.

EAST COBB, Ga. — Wellstar Kennestone Hospital recently announced it will open a new emergency department (ED) on July 23, 2020. Mary Chatman, executive vice president of Wellstar Health System and president of Kennestone and Windy Hill Hospitals, said the ED was originally set to open on May 7, 2020.

“Because we did not know what the spike would look like for COVID-19, we actually delayed it,” she said. “The good news is it really did put Wellstar in a good position in terms of planning for the COVID pandemic.”

The 263,000 square foot facility will be the second largest in the country, Chatman said, with the ability to serve 600 patients per day and 220,000 patients each year.

“This has been a product of love and commitment to the community,” she said. “We started to plan the new emergency department in 2009. It actually was the result of being in an existing emergency department which was built a long time ago to accommodate about 50,000 visitors. We are crunched for space, and we recognize that the community continues to depend on us to be the beacon for their health care.”

Credit: Wellstar Kennestone Hospital

Even though plans for the new ED were created long before COVID-19, Chatman said the pandemic has given everyone a better appreciation for all the thought that went into developing the building.

“One, it's connected back to the main hospital, and that's why the bridge that crosses over Church Street that actually represents sort of the gate to Marietta, that bridge connects right into our surgical suite. So having the ability to be connected back to the main services makes patient care a bit more seamless,” she said. “As well, if we had to move our COVID patients there, the infrastructures that are already within the building would have made it very seamless to the patients. For example, it has an entire imaging suite, so we would not have had to move our patients over too in-patient. They could have gotten their tests and their diagnosis right on site.”

The new facility, which cost $126 million, also has private rooms, Chatman said, as compared to other emergency departments where the treatment space is separated only by curtains.

“Instead of having curtains, we have doors,” she said. “Inside the doors are the blinds for privacy. That seems like a very small example, but there are a number of things in terms of whether it's negative pressure rooms, whether its doors rather than blinds, whether it's not having patients in the hallway. This facility gives us the opportunity to pay attention to the community concern of 'if I get my health care in a facility, will I be safe? And can they keep me safe, so that I do not transmit something, whether it's COVID-19 or any other condition that's contagious?' We feel confident that this new facility allows us to take a step above what most emergency departments are doing in the country, especially locally.”

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