By RICK HAYES
MT. VERNON — —
A rainbow overhead at sunrise on Sunday was an ominous sight, and probably a good sign that God was looking over the day’s activities.
Officials at Good Samaritan Regional Health Center had planned for days — even months — for Sunday’s arrival of patients to the new campus on Veterans Memorial Drive. And despite some touch-and-go moments with the weather, the day couldn’t have gone any smoother.
“Things went very safely and smoothly,” said Victoria Woodrow, the hospital’s director of marketing and public relations. “We successfully transitioned 55 patients to the Good Samaritan Regional Health Center by noon, and that was roughly two hours ahead of schedule. That’s a testament of diligent planning and practicing over the past year.”
The first patients started moving from the old hospital on 12th Street at 7 a.m. with 18 ambulances lined up in double file down the south side of the public parking lot. By 7:30 a.m., four of the 55 patients to be moved had arrived at the new facility, which includes 134 private rooms.
The patient move plan was developed with the guidance of the Transition Team, Allied Health Moving and Northstar Management Co., according to information from the hospital. They along with area EMS companies such as Litton’s Ambulance Service, Wayne County Ambulance, Pinckneyville Ambulance Service, Washington County Ambulance, LifeStar, Air Evac, and Abbott EMS, have been preparing for this day for over a year. The local transition team included over 100 health care professionals, including nursing students.
Patients were safely transported by ambulances, which went down 12th Street, then down Veterans Memorial Drive to the front entrance to the hospital.
While sleet began to fall as the first patients were boarded, the precipitation quickly turned to a rain event. Woodrow said weather played a minor role in the day’s event.
“The city’s Public Works Department came and they were watching very carefully to make sure the route was salted and that traffic wouldn’t be impeded coming to the hospital. Mayor Chesley visited with us early in the move too and we appreciate her making preparations for the transition,” Woodrow said.
“I can’t believe this day is finally here,” was the most common comment from hospital employees.
Woodrow said the staff is relieved, but rewarded with a good transition.
“We had a structure in place throughout the move to ensure timely communication, and to make sure everything and everybody was addressed. We were getting constant updates throughout the day. We’re very relieved as a staff. We’ve planned for the last two years that this would be a seamless as possible and this is a testament to the staff. We were truly blessed by God today and throughout this whole process of moving to the new hospital,” she said.
Groundbreaking for the facility was held in April 2010. The new hospital includes a 359,000 square foot facility and attached 141,000 square foot Medical Plaza. The total cost of the project was placed at $237 million.