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Published: Wednesday, 4/11/2007

Health center will show off changes

BY JANE SCHMUCKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

WAUSEON - More than 1,000 people are expected to tour the Fulton County Health Center's new emergency room and surgical areas April 22 when the hospital shows off the progress it has made on an $18 million expansion.

Among the most interesting stops on the 1 to 4 p.m. tour is likely the new emergency room, which measures 18,000 square feet - more than quadruple the space of the current emergency room.

The new emergency room, which is expected to go into use May 1, will have 18 beds, up from seven in the current emergency room. That's important, health center administrator Dean Beck said, because patients have waited for beds in the current emergency room four or five times in the last two months.

For the tour, the hospital will have about 50 staff members explaining the new setup to visitors, who are expected to spend about an hour on the walk-through. It will include stops in occupational medicine and endoscopic units.

Both of those departments, which are to open May 1 in their new quarters, have been expanded to six beds, up from two beds.

Occupational medicine is largely for examinations the hospital does under contract with local industries, such as providing physicals for employees. The endoscopic unit is where colonoscopies are performed.

After the hospital moves into those new areas next month, it will start work on two new operating rooms and turning the old emergency room into an expanded lab and X-ray department.

The new operating rooms will be about 10 feet wider and 10 feet longer that what surgeons have been using to date. The extra space will provide room for more equipment, including television-type monitors that surgeons and their assistants use to improve visual access.

The new lab will be about 50 percent larger than the current one. The X-ray department, including electrocardiogram and stress-testing equipment, will have 2,000 square feet, four times more room.

Those areas are to be completed by next spring.

The hospital is also "halfway there" on constructing a kidney dialysis center, Mr. Beck said.

Although it is on the hospital grounds, it is a separate project from the emergency room and surgical areas and will not be on the April 22 tour.

The dialysis center is being built with funds from the estate of Dorothy Biddle, who was perhaps Wauseon's best known millionaire when she died just over two years ago at age 106.

Mrs. Biddle's executors donated almost $447,000 to the hospital last week to cover most of the 12-bed center's construction cost. It was the last of many large checks which have been distributed from her estate.

The dialysis center is to be leased to an Illinois organization, which is to operate it.

Fulton County residents on dialysis now drive at least 30 minutes, and some more than an hour, to Toledo, Defiance, or Bryan. And they typically do so three times a week, spending four to six hours at a dialysis center each time.

Construction on the center started late last fall, north of Fulton Manor Nursing Home & Suites. The exterior is completed, but work on the interior is just starting.

Contact Jane Schmucker at:

jschmucker@theblade.com

or 419-724-6050.



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