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Amy Umble is health reporter for The Free Lance-Star

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Mary Washington Hospital expands space, adds equipment for trauma care

Dr. Lawrence Roberts in one of the new trauma rooms at Mary Washington Hospital.

Mary Washington Hospital has renovated its emergency department to add space and equipment for the treatment of trauma patients.

The hospital knocked down walls between treatment rooms to create two large rooms from four smaller ones. The renovations began in November and were completed last month.

Dr. Lawrence Roberts, medical director for the trauma service, said yesterday that he recommended the change soon after arriving at Mary Washington in 2007. Each of the new rooms is about twice as big as the room that was used for trauma patients. Now the rooms more closely resemble in size the trauma rooms in other hospitals, he said.

Because of the renovation, the trauma staff was able to assemble in one place equipment and materials that had been in other locations in the ER. They also were able to add new equipment, such as rapid infuser for fluids, a special airway cart and a touchless sink.

The enlarged rooms have two beds each, which means that two patients can be treated at the same time. Roberts said this happened last month when a building under construction collapsed on workers in Stafford County. One trauma team managed both patients, Roberts said. Before, two teams would have been required.

The expansion also allows ambulance crews to remain with their patients through the early stages of treatment.

“I’m already so much more at ease when EMS brings a patient in,” he said. “I feel like we have more of an opportunity to collaborate. Before we were too crowded.”

During one recent case, the ambulance crew was still in the room when Roberts hooked their patient to a monitor. The monitor showed that the patient’s blood pressure was low and her pulse was high.

“How come there was no IV?” Roberts asked one of the crew members.

“I tried once and we just ran” to the hospital, the crew member replied.

Roberts said the exchange would not have been possible in the old trauma room, and that both he and the crew learned from it. He said he was reminded how hard it can be to start an IV in the field. The squad member told Roberts, “If I had realized she was deteriorating, I would have tried again” to start the IV.

Mary Washington’s Level II trauma program started in 2008. The ER there treated nearly 122,000 patients in 2010.