- Associated Press - Sunday, June 19, 2016

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) - A hospital emergency department in Tuscaloosa will soon undergo renovations.

A 6,500 square foot portion of the emergency department at DCH Regional Medical Center will be upgraded, the Tuscaloosa News (https://bit.ly/1rs2FUu) reported. The emergency department is nearly 30,000 square foot in total.

The DCH Health System board of directors approved the $965,000 renovation at its meeting on Tuesday night.

The renovation process will begin immediately and take about a year to complete, said David Roberts, corporate director of construction and engineering. Two patient intake rooms, four treatment rooms, two consulting rooms and a patient bathroom will be added to the department. Supplies and medication will be moved closer to patients.

“The nurses and doctors led the design team,” he said.

The board also approved the purchase of 170 new telemetry units for the sixth- and seventh-floor nursing units of DCH Regional Medical Center.

“New physician and staff work areas will better support workflow, which should help reduce wait times,” said Lorraine Yehlen, vice president for patient care services.

Telemetry units are monitors patients wear that send a tracing of their heart rhythm to a central station.

Altogether, the monitors will cost $1.1 million with an annual $69,033 operating cost for software maintenance. The operating cost is fixed for five years, then renegotiated.

Installation will begin in August and will be completed by October. Yehlen said the expected life of each unit is 10 years.

The board budgeted money for one MRI machine for FY2016 and one for FY2017, but by committing to purchase both machines this year, the health system will receive a $150,000 discount, said Donna Marrero, vice president of outpatient services.

One $1.5 million unit will replace a 16-year-old MRI machine at DCH Regional Medical Center this year, and another $1.9 million unit will replace a 13-year-old MRI machine at Northport Medical Center in 2017.

The costs include construction.

Eighty percent of payment is required upon installation and 20 percent due when the first patient is scanned, that means the health system will still be within its FY2017 budget when the second unit is installed as originally planned.

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