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Hospital’s new ER abuzz with opening-day activity

Sonoma Valley Hospital staff turn their attention to a patient just a few minutes after the hospital's new ER opened Tuesday morning. Robbi Pengelly/Index-Tribune

Sonoma Valley Hospital staff turn their attention to a patient just a few minutes after the hospital's new ER opened Tuesday morning. Robbi Pengelly/Index-Tribune

By Don Frances/INDEX-TRIBUNE NEWS EDITOR

It was precisely 7 a.m. on Tuesday when a beaming Kelly Mather, CEO of Sonoma Valley Hospital, unveiled a sign pointing to the brand-new emergency room.

At that moment, Sonoma’s old ER – described by hospital staff as run-down and shabby – closed, and a modern one opened in its place.

The inevitable chaos ensued as doctors, nurses and everyone else made the transition from old to new. Supplies and equipment filled the rooms, staff sorted things out, and 15 minutes in, the first patient arrived.

It was a hectic morning, but by noon the place was decidedly calmer – “a lot better than it was four hours ago,” said Mark Kobe, director of nursing. Most nurses were still getting to know their new environment, and the talkative buzz gave the place a first-day-of-school air.

Kobe reflected the happiness everyone there seemed to feel at occupying a modern healthcare facility. For example, “We didn’t have a dedicated triage room in the old ER, and now we do,” he said.

Other improvements are even more obvious. SVH’s old facility, with its cramped spaces, faded walls and grey floors – hospital marketing coordinator Celia Kruse de la Rosa described the decor as “’40s meets ’80s” – was uninspiring for staff and unpleasant for patients and those waiting for them.

But the new ER is a larger and warmer space, with earth tones and design touches, soft music over the sound system, a colorful mural by Sonoma artist George Dawnay, and a children’s play area to make the waiting room better for youngsters.

More important is what’s past the waiting room: The layout includes a centralized nursing station with commanding views of the place, letting doctors and nurses keep better tabs on their patients.

“Awesome,” was the word used by Kelly Williams, a longtime charge nurse for Sonoma Valley Hospital’s emergency room and ICU. She said people have talked about upgrading the ER for as long as she’s been working there – more than 20 years.

Dr. Robert Cohen, the hospital’s chief medical officer, has been there for nearly 30 years, and called Tuesday’s opening “the icing on the cake for my career.”

“I’m proud that we can show this off for my community,” he said.

  • Steve Marler

    Hmmm… I guess I getting old. I remember when the “old” ER was the “new” ER. Before that, does anyone else remember when nurse Georgia would provide the care when Norrbom’s Ambulance brought in a patient? Once she had things under control, she’d call around to find a local Doctor to come inand “help” her. :o)

  • Dee Test

    Our tax dollars at work. All of Sonoma being compelled to pay to build the new ER, OR, and the rest of the huge remodel……so that we can continue to over-pay for medical services in our local “community” hospital.

  • Brooke

    Well – I hope the new facility does a better job of attending to patients. Took my mom to the Sonoma ER with a head injury and it was the BIGGEST MISTAKE OF MY LIFE. We sat unattended in the waiting room for 3 hours while she had a major head injury and excessive bleeding. Waited while they treated another patient for a dislocated shoulder and a young girl with a bladder infection. By the time they finally examined my mom, it was too late and she was rushed to Memorial Hospital for emergency brain surgery. My mother passed 11 days later. The last year and a half has been a LIVING NIGHTMARE for my family. PLEASE, in the event of emergency, bring your loved ones to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital!

  • Phineas Worthington

    In the past I have been critical of the means by which the hospital acquires funds from property owners. I still disagree with this method of acquiring funds through legal coercion upon property owners even though I am no longer one of them. I would prefer more voluntary means of getting money.

    However, I must sing the praises of the hospital ER, their professionalism, and their care that they gave me in a recent experience. I was admitted and treated in a quick manner. The doctors and nurses were exceedingly kind and caring to me. The hospital ER did the best they could to patch me up, but I required emergency surgery which they scheduled for me despite the holiday weekend. When I had surgery two days later I was taken in quickly into pre-op. And in a short time I was in surgery. Before I knew it I was in post-op and then on my way home. All in all it was a very positive experience. All of the staff, nurses, and doctors treated me very well. And I am now mending well thankfully.

    The hospital for me has always been a place where I can get quality care in the timely, professional manner in which I want to receive that care. Though the cost to me this last time was tremendous, almost $30,000 for just my four hours at the hospital and the hour plus in the OR. Whoa! Thankfully I won’t have to pay it all since my insurance will cover most of it. Phew!

    I fully understand the potential of one accident causing bankruptcy, but cannot afford a full coverage policy for myself. And that is why I kept my sub-par grandfathered emergency medical policy from Anthem and will continue to do so. Thank goodness for insurance! And the hospital! And all the skilled care providers that work so hard at what they do! And of course, thank you Mom for coming to take care of me when I needed you most!