After a year of working around plastic drapes and construction noise and dust, St. Catherine Hospital celebrated the completion of its $2.5 million Emergency Room renovation with a Garden City Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting, luncheon and departmental tours as physicians, administrators, staff and community well wishers gathered at the hospital’s north entrance for the Thursday festivities.

“We heard from patients and their families that our ER needed to be larger, brighter and nicer,” said Scott Taylor, SCH president and Chief Executive Officer. “We are grateful to our partner, Centura Health, for investing in the development of our critical care and the specialty services now provided by St. Catherine Hospital. Centura’s financial commitment to us is now well over $100 million and that helps ensure we are and will remain the critical care center of choice in western Kansas.”

Taylor then thanked the community for contributing more than $600,000 towards the ER renovation. He then introduced Dora Leon, RN, Emergency Department director, and Tracy Henry, facilities director, who elaborated on the details of the department’s massive remodeling.

“The last year has felt like we were running a high speed MASH unit,” laughed Leon. “But the end results have been worth the inconveniences and we are extremely proud of our revamped facility which we believe is much more patient friendly and allows the staff to get patients treated quickly and cutting down on overall wait times.”

Henry said the renovations completed by Garden City’s Gibson, Mancini, Carmichael, and Nelson architects, and contractor Coonrod and Associates, Wichita, took place within the same amount of square footage that the previous ER inhabited prior to the remodel. He said that patients entering the hospital’s north doors will register at the front desk and be processed from there.

“There are new security cameras throughout the department so we can monitor the front desk, helicopter pad and ambulance bays,” said Henry. “Once a patient gets registered they are taken back to one of our four private or four semi-private rooms. If those beds are occupied, the patients are then escorted to the Fast Track area until an ER room opens up. We have reduced our patient wait times to an average of seven minutes before being seen by a physician. That’s a huge improvement for us.”


Leon said that each patient room has solid sound diminishing walls to enhance the privacy, come equipped with new televisions with a remote control that houses not only the channel changer and volume control but has nurse call buttons that can indicate if the patient is in need of pain medication or desires a drink of water. Additionally, the new rooms have upgraded overhead lighting that will allow for suturing in every room rather than having to wait for the suture room to become available.

The rooms are decorated with original artwork painted by local artist and interior designer Deb Huber.

“We have a new portable x-ray machine that provides digital radiography,” said Leon. “That means we can take and look at the x-rays right there in the room literally seconds after they’ve been taken. The patient receives less radiation than the traditional x-ray.”

She said that each room has a bed that is equipped with a scale so if a patient is unable to navigate to traditional scales, weight can be measured with the patient lying on the bed. Leon said that the ER now has its own isolation room that can convert to negative pressure should a patient present as having or is suspected as having active tuberculosis or other airborne pathogens.

“All of our Emergency Room physicians are board certified in emergency medicine,” said Leon. “We’ve also added mid-level healthcare providers (physician assistants and advanced practice registered nurses) so we feel the care and expertise provided are of the highest quality. I think our patients believe that too, as even through the construction period our satisfaction scores either remained good or showed improvement. That’s always a good sign that we are doing our job well.”