People in Elmore County have a new, state-of-the-art option for emergency care close to home. St. Luke’s Health System unveiled its expanded emergency department in Mountain Home this week. The new ED officially opens to patients on Tuesday, Jan. 16.
Community members and St. Luke’s leaders toured the remodeled and expanded waiting area and emergency department at the Elmore Medical Center during a dedication and open house Friday. St. Luke’s invested more than $6 million to meet the growing needs of the rural community. With the nearest hospital 40 miles away, St. Luke’s Elmore provides the only 24/7 ED for 29,000 people spread out over Elmore County’s 3,000 square miles.
Emergency care in the 1950s-era hospital had been confined to a small, outdated space originally designed to handle a handful of patients at one time. Instead in 2017, the ED team treated almost 12,000 patients in 1,800 square feet. That’s a space built to manage 5,000 patients a year. Coupled with reduced services at the Mountain Home Air Force Base hospital, those numbers are steadily increasing, as more than 3,000 airmen and their families look for additional care.
“These individuals are more than just patients to us; they are family, friends, our children and our community,” said St. Luke’s Elmore Administrator Michael Blauer. “We want them to thrive by providing the best-possible care when they walk through our doors. That goes for when the visit is a planned surgery or new baby, or an emergency none of us ever hope to have.”
The ED is nearly five times the original size after the upgrade, with the number of beds expanding from four to ten. That allows the hospital to plan ahead and be able to care for 14,000 emergency patients in one year. The rebuild, which started in the summer of 2016, also provides for faster access through a new front entrance and a direct-access enclosed ambulance bay. There are two new trauma bays, a security room to protect patients and staff, new infrastructure to support electronic health records, and a separate, dedicated waiting room.
In addition to the new space and up-to-date equipment, the hospital now has dedicated doctors and nurses specifically trained for crisis care. Emergency Medicine of Idaho (EMI) now staffs the Elmore ED, providing the same level of expertise people would receive in EDs in Boise, Meridian and Nampa, by the same group of people.
“We’re grateful to the many family physicians in our community who took turns taking call and staffing our emergency room over the years,” said Blauer. “But our community is changing. Health care needs are becoming more complex. As care evolves and our community grows, we have a responsibility to ensure a new level of quality care for the people who call Mountain Home just that – home.”
St. Luke’s Elmore is a critical access hospital with 25-beds, an emergency department, lab and imaging services, family birthing suites and a long-term care unit. The hospital employs more than 300 people who cared for 27,000 people in the hospital and another 25,000 at clinics, did 130 surgeries, and delivered 145 new babies in 2017.
“We’re confident these renovations and investments will signal to the community that St. Luke’s is even more committed to providing them with the same high-quality, high-value care without having to drive an hour to Boise,” said Chris Roth, Chief Operating Office for St. Luke’s Health System. “They can be seen right where they need it - close to home, work and most importantly, family.”
Anita Kisseé was the Treasure Valley public relations manager for St. Luke’s Health System.