Expansion of emergency facilities ‘will help enhance health …  of the community’

CLEARLAKE – St. Helena Hospital Clearlake will soon begin construction on a revamped, $12.1 million emergency department that will increase capacity and access while improving care, the hospital said.

The 25-bed, acute care hospital – the sister hospital of St. Helena in Napa County – will add five "state-of-the-art" patient monitoring rooms, increasing the number of private rooms to 12 from seven at the facility that serves South Lake County. All told, the department will expand by more than 4,100 square feet.

Two of the new rooms will serve trauma patients, and the hospital may explore becoming a trauma center sometime in the future, a spokeswoman said.

The expanded emergency wing will also have a separate, dedicated ambulance entrance as well as a walk-in entrance for patients and visitors, according to the hospital.

Funding for the construction consists of a mix of federal dollars procured by Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, whose district runs through portions of Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino and Lake counties, and private funding. St. Helena Clearlake is owned by Adventist Health, a 19-hospital system.

"This important project will help enhance the health and vitality of the community," Mr. Thompson said about the project.

Construction will begin on the emergency department on Nov. 10 with a "wall breaking" ceremony, hospital officials said.

"We are transforming care from the inside out by establishing a program that allows our physicians to remain inside the hospital to attend to the needs of our patients," said Jennifer Swenson, vice president of operations at the hospital. The construction "implants the high quality standards that St. Helena in the Napa Valley has known for years and provides an environment that supports clinical innovation, education and partnerships for our staff."

Construction is expected to take 18 months, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Previously, the emergency department consisted of no private beds and was just one large room with beds and curtains. A new, larger waiting area for visitors will be included as well, and the triage area will accommodate for patients to go directly from the lobby to a private bed, if necessary, the hospital said.