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Mercy Mt. Shasta's new Emergency Department expansion blessed, open for business

Skye Kinkade
Mount Shasta Herald

During a blessing ceremony on Friday morning, Mercy Medical Center Mt. Shasta's new emergency department was officially opened for business - although there were already patients inside being treated while the gathering took place outdoors.

Dr. Todd Strumwasser, president of CommonSpirit Health's Northern California Division, called the rural hospital "the jewel in the crown" of the Dignity Health system. During his remarks at Friday's ceremony, Strumwasser said Mercy has the highest patient satisfaction ratings of Dignity Health's 149 hospitals. He admitted that he's only visited Mount Shasta twice, but said he is impressed with the facility and all the people who make such great patient satisfaction possible. He said the time, energy and money invested in the project, which took two years to complete, was "completely worth it."

The $8 million expansion added nearly 3,000 square feet of floor space to the emergency department, including three private patient rooms, a confidential admitting area, a spacious waiting room, and separate entrances for ambulances and pedestrians.

Mercy Mt. Shasta was built in 1976, explained the hospital’s Director of Ancillary Services, Joyce Zwanziger, and the ED hadn’t been renovated since the 1980s. The community had outgrown the hospital’s old 2,000 square foot, eight-bed department, which lacked in patient privacy, staff safety and overall efficiency.

The centralized nurses station is the hub of action and staff and patients are protected in an area that’s separate from the waiting area. The new 420 square foot waiting room includes dedicated restrooms, new vending machines and a water bottle filling station. Other additions include several handicap-accessible bathrooms – one with a shower – a physician sleeping room, a staff lounge and a “triage room,” where medical screenings can be performed in private.

Now that the first phase of the project is complete, a second phase will begin, said Zwanziger. Over the course of a year, the ED’s old patient rooms will be renovated in shifts to include 11 total beds.

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Mercy Mt. Shasta serves as a base station for the local ambulance service and is designated a Level III trauma center – the only Level III trauma center between Medford, Ore. and Redding.

Mercy Foundation North committed to raise a minimum of $1.2 million and is on target to raise $1.5.

"To date, we have raised just under $1 million with significant support from the Mercy Mt. Shasta Auxiliary, Valley Emergency Physicians, Mechanics Bank, Mt. Shasta Rotary, the Estate of Polly Postushenko, Tri Counties Bank, Gifford Construction, the Cross Family, AGT CPAs and Advisors, Pacific Power Foundation, and Ben B. Cheney Foundation," said Mercy Foundation North's Alisa Johnson. "To date, the hospital’s employees have contributed more than $125,000, toward the project. With the new section opening, construction and renovation of the existing space will now begin and we hope to complete the entire project by Spring 2021. We are so grateful for our community’s support and patience!"

CommonSpirit Health’s investment in the hospital was imperative to the project’s completion, Zwanziger said, and couldn’t have been accomplished on Mercy Mt. Shasta’s profits alone.

“That’s the benefit of being part of a larger system that’s able to invest in our community,” said Zwanziger. “This project is truly a community effort for a community hospital.”