[caption id="attachment_35869" align="alignright" width="383"] Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital trauma team[/caption]

SANTA ROSA -- Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital today announced it will resume the $15 million renovation of its emergency department in early 2012, a project that was postponed during the collapse of financial markets in 2008.

The St. Joseph Health System board in Orange on Wednesday approved the expansion, which will add nearly 50 percent more square footage to Sonoma County's level II trauma center and its busiest emergency room.

Pending the necessary approvals, the hospital anticipates the expanded facility to be ready for occupancy by early 2014.

It will include 26 private patient rooms, which hospital officials said will enable them to treat more critically ill and injured patients while more quickly triaging and caring for patients with less severe conditions.

“We’re committed to providing patients more space and privacy, a state-of-the-art environment, and faster care,” said Kristy Gaub, RN, director of emergency, trauma and urgent care services for St. Joseph Health System--Sonoma County, which owns and operates the 278-bed hospital.

Architectural designs call for renovation of the department’s existing 9,280-square-foot space with an adjacent single-story. Features include:An increased number of patient treatment beds, from 19 to 26.Upgraded patient bays to larger, private rooms.Enlarged waiting area with seating for 60 people and a larger reception area.Two nursing stations, two physician charting rooms, additional private space for consultations with patient families and other amenities.

On average, Memorial’s Emergency Department treats about 100 patients per day. In fiscal 2010, the department saw 38,925 patients over a 12-month period, according to the hospital.

The upgraded department also is designed to speed and improve care for nontrauma patients, including those suffering life-threatening conditions including stroke and heart attacks. Even in cases of less severe illness or injury, “we’ll be able to get patients into beds more quickly,” said Ed West, MD, medical director of emergency medicine at Santa Rosa Memorial.

Architectural drawings have been submitted to the city of Santa Rosa and the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development for review.

The hospital said it has secured pledges from a number of local donors whose contributions will help fund the expansion.

Soon after the hospital's Heart & Vascular Institute opened, a nationwide economic downturn caused Memorial’s leaders to postpone a $68 million emergency department and ICU expansion. The current proposal represents a more narrowly focused upgrade designed to meet community needs through 2030, according to hospital officials.

“This expansion will allow us to better treat and comfort patients and their families, and to maintain our long-standing commitment to excellence in trauma services, cardiovascular care, and other life-saving treatments,” said Kevin Klockenga, president and chief executive officer of St. Joseph Health System--Sonoma County. “It will build our capacity as a regional hub of medical excellence, equipped to care for area residents now and for decades to come.”