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News / Business / Clark County Business

PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center’s new emergency department will open in July

Vancouver hospital has been under construction, expanding to meet needs of growing population

By Chrissy Booker, Columbian staff writer
Published: April 16, 2024, 6:05am
9 Photos
Dr. Jason Hanley, left, and site superintendent Joe Newman stand outside of a new emergency department building Friday at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver. The first section of the new emergency department is scheduled to open this summer.
Dr. Jason Hanley, left, and site superintendent Joe Newman stand outside of a new emergency department building Friday at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver. The first section of the new emergency department is scheduled to open this summer. (Photos by Taylor Balkom/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

After two years of construction, the first part of a redesigned and expanded emergency department at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver will open July 16.

PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center has been treating patients in a temporary emergency room but will switch to the newly finished space. Then, the final phase of construction will begin.

When completed in 2025, the new emergency department will encompass 37,000 square feet, with 56 treatment rooms, 11 transitional rooms, four trauma rooms, 24 observation rooms and eight ambulance ports.

“The initial emergency department was built in the late ’80s, early ’90s. We’ve had one significant remodel since then, but the population has grown,” Emergency Services Medical Director Jason Hanley said. “The emergency department facility in general just needed an upgrade in terms of room size, and making it look respectable to the point that our patients deserve.”

The process

On Friday afternoon, a boom lift raised a construction crew to work on the building’s glass panes. Inside, patient rooms are double the size of those in the old emergency department. In addition to treatment and trauma rooms, the building will include dedicated pediatric rooms. The space will also include an entry with adjacent parking for safe traffic flow.

Open communication between all team members was imperative for the success of the project, said Rick Sanders, PeaceHealth’s director of planning and design.

“That’s been the key to the success: open communication, people working back and forth and making sure that we’re taking care of the community that we serve,” Sanders said. “From the very, very beginning, we were making sure that we were taking care of our caregivers. We had a lot of input. We did mock-ups of the rooms, and we put sticky notes everywhere with ideas.”

The new building will improve patient flow, increase resources and reduce wait times for the community, Hanley said.

“There’s a lot of nonverbal communication that goes on in our world. This project has given us the opportunity to actually design a building around the process,” Hanley said.

PeaceHealth hired Turner Construction and ZGF Architects for the $140 million project. In January, the hospital received an additional $1 million through a federal grant to support the expansion.

PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center’s emergency department offers treatment 24/7. It is divided into sections, including triage, intake and behavioral health.

Last year, PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center’s emergency department saw 77,000 patients. Hanley said he expects that number to increase anywhere from 10 percent to 20 percent once the facility opens. Staffing will eventually expand to keep pace with the facility.

On the Web:

Watch a live webcam of PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center construction at peacehealth.org/swedexpansion


Community hub

On the second floor of the emergency department, a new concept called the Community Health Hub will provide patients with additional resources related to mental illness, addiction, food insecurity, homelessness and more. Members from 12 community organizations will have a designated space within the hub to connect patients with various social services.

“What we’re really good at is figuring out what they (patients) need, and giving them resources by name or phone number, or pamphlet, but a lot of folks never actually get to the point of getting to those services,” Hanley said. “They end up coming back to the emergency department in days or weeks later, because they still have the same need.”

The Community Health Hub will redirect those who need social services rather than medical care, Hanley said.

“We believe the humanity, compassion and connection we will provide, in collaborating with our community partners, can greatly improve the lives of our most vulnerable,” said Liz Cattin, community health director for PeaceHealth Columbia Network.

PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center will host an open house for the community ahead of the opening from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. June 28.

Community Funded Journalism logo

This story was made possible by Community Funded Journalism, a project from The Columbian and the Local Media Foundation. Top donors include the Ed and Dollie Lynch Fund, Patricia, David and Jacob Nierenberg, Connie and Lee Kearney, Steve and Jan Oliva, The Cowlitz Tribal Foundation and the Mason E. Nolan Charitable Fund. The Columbian controls all content. For more information, visit columbian.com/cfj.