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Phase one of ER expansion complete

Squamish General Hospital to be complete in July

The first phase of the Squamish General Hospital emergency department expansion is open to the public.

The emergency department, which treats more than 15,000 patients a year, opened a new waiting area, security booth, trauma room, main nurse station and three bed bays, Thursday Feb. 12.

"It is the largest phase of the project and the next two phases are still under construction," said Brett Crawley, Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) facilities project leader.

Staff are still working in a construction zone, but Karyn Smith, Squamish General Hospital team leader, said the completion of phase one is encouraging. The entire project is expected to be finished by July 2009.

Phase two of the $1.7 million emergency department includes increasing the number of triage spaces from eight to 12. Observation rooms and a laboratory station will be complete in phase three.

"We still have a few glitches to work out but it's bright an beautiful. It is amazing how much support we have received from the Squamish Health Care Foundation," Smith said.

The Squamish Health Care Foundation Society has raised over $1.5 million dollars for health care in the Sea to Sky Corridor. Smith said the foundation raised $55,000 to purchase a range of surgical instruments and support equipment.

In addition to increasing capacity and reducing wait times, the installation of new facilities enables Hospital staff to better identify and respond to acute trauma cases, significantly raising a patient's potential for survival.

"Our hospital is 21 years old so we were overdue for an update," Smith said. "The new rooms are equipped with cardiac monitors so no matter where we are, we can check on patients."

The rest of the Squamish General Hospital is getting a facelift with updates such as a new roof. Heavy snowfall earlier this year caused a series of leaks, resulting in plans for a new roof.

"The leaks have stopped since the snow melted but we got the go ahead to put a new roof on the building. It is going to be a very busy summer here," Crawley said.

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