LOCK HAVEN - Examine the speeches offered Friday at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Mount Nittany Medical Center new emergency center, and you'll quickly discover a common theme.
Each speaker used words like "enhanced" and "improved" to describe the milestone.
They also used "bigger, smarter and better."
JIM RUNKLE/THE EXPRESS
Participating in the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Emergency Department facility at Mount Nittany Medical Center in State College are, from left, Theodore Ziff, MD; Eileen Leibowitz; Kasandra A. Botti, DO; Carl Anderson III, and Steve Brown, president and CEO.
But the biggest word of all, used with most frequency and emphasis, was "community."
The end of the first part of Mount Nittany Medical Center's new Emergency Medicine services facility was highlighted by several dignitaries during the hour long ceremony, but the real star was the facility itself, which will open to patients on July 1.
Clearly, care had been taken in its development. Officials noted many trips to other modern facilities, as local employees and representatives sought out methods and machines that appeared to work the best.
The local employees were then quizzed about their opinions and offered suggestions over the many months of development.
Finally, those suggestions and findings where handed to the architects and engineers, who produced schematics and blueprints that revealed a "dazzling" design concept that was just as quickly adopted and transformed into concrete form by the contractors.
Judging from the reactions of the nursing staff, doctors and other medical professionals who were in attendance yesterday, all the work - and the $33.3 million that will be invested in the project after phase II is finished - was well worth the expense.
Officials said phase II should be completed in March of 2013.
The community is invited to see what all the boasting is about at a free open house today from 9 a.m. to noon to celebrate the completion of the first section, and to take a tour of the new facility.
Tours, refreshments, giveaways, health information and more will be featured.
"Emergency medical services touches everybody in the community at one time or another," said CEO and President Steve Brown. "This is more than a new building or new Emergency Department ... This represents our preparation for the future and our commitment to being the community's hospital ... Our staying ahead of the growth curve."
It was Brown who pointed to the medical staff, local governments and the community leaders as the major contributors to this "labor of love."
Carl Anderson III, the chairman of the board of directors pointed to the mission of the facility - "Making our people healthier" - and said the enhanced emergency medical facility will go a long way in placing the patient at the center of programming and policy.
"Dr. Theodore Ziff, medical director introduced the place as "your community hospital" and noted that the growing needs required this growing response.
"The number of patients receiving medical treatment from the ED then and now is incomparable," he said. " It was built to care for 30,000-35,000 patients each year. In 2010, more than 50,000 patients needed care in Mount Nittany Medical Center's Emergency Department, and by 2020, about 85,000 people are predicted to seek emergency care."
The more than 56,000-square-foot expansion and renovation will add more than 40 new rooms, each with its own restroom for patient privacy and comfort. To accommodate the influx of seasonal and event-related patients, the ED is designed to expand to more than 60 beds, depending on the volume of patients at any given time.
"It will be more intimate for the patients, and provide a quieter environment with more convenience for patients and the staff," Dr. Ziff said.
Dr. Kasandra A. Botti, medical and EMS director also pointed to the design as facilitating a "swift" process, given that in emergency services, "every second is precious." The strategic design, she said, focused on providing medical treatment and assessment of injuries as quickly and safely as possible.
Steering Committee Chairman Eileen Leibowitz was credited with being the fund-raising wizard of Mount Nittany, but gave most of the credit to her late husband for the emotion and enthusiasm with which she pursued the project, and continues to support its next stage.
Those who toured the facility Friday morning and afternoon were shown several additional features, including:
r A Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner room adheres to the Department of Health's Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (SAFE) Program with specifically trained health professionals available to ensure that victims of sexual assault receive competent, compassionate and prompt care.
r Two trauma rooms have been added for treatment of major trauma and serious medical problems.
r New parking areas and access roads have been provided to improve accessibility for patients and visitors of Mount Nittany Medical Center's Emergency Department.
r Four behavioral health rooms, which will be complete in phase two, will be established to handle specific behavioral needs of patients, and will incorporate direct access for security personnel.
r A bereavement room will give friends and family members of patients a private space.
The spokesmen said the four fully independent pods will allow Mount Nittany Medical Center to better designate areas depending on each patient's conditions, injuries and/or diseases.
Two pods are open during the first phase, and all four will be available to use at the completion of the project.
A central nursing station will be located within each pod so that nurses can be closer to patients, who in turn will be more aware of all the members of their core care team.
Each nurse will be provided no more than four patients at a time.