Number of patients treated there has doubled since 1998

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FARMINGTON — San Juan Regional Medical Center’s emergency department is receiving a facelift and expansion to meet the needs of a growing number of patients.

The $2.5 million renovation is paid for by a gross receipts tax bonds that were set aside for renovations at the medical center. The San Juan County Commission, which oversees the funds, approved the project in November.

An increasing demand for emergency services is one of the factors necessitating the renovation of an emergency department that was built 20 years ago.

Since 1998, the number of patients visiting the emergency department has more than doubled. In 1998, about 35,000 patients visited the department. San Juan Regional Medical Center estimates it will see 69,000 this year.

“We’re seeing higher patient volumes than we ever have,” said Todd Bille, the medical center's vice president of strategic planning.

Bille said the emergency department serves between 200 and 250 patients daily.

Nearly 8,000 square feet of space will be renovated, and an additional 1,000 square feet will be added. The renovation will include seven new “fast track” spaces to help people get care quicker. The emergency department will also have three new treatment rooms and a space that can be turned into a fourth treatment room if patient demand for emergency services continues to increase.

The emergency department will also have exam rooms in the holding bay. Currently it uses curtains to separate patients. The new exam rooms will increase patient privacy.

Bille said people visiting the emergency department during renovation should bring only the number of friends or relatives needed to assist them.

“We love to have loved ones, but in this case we really need the minimum,” he said.

He estimates it will take 10 months to complete the renovation, which is divided into two phases.

Hospital spokeswoman Laura Werbner said patients who need to go to the emergency department should go to the emergency entrance on West Maple Street rather than the main San Juan Regional Medical Center entrance on West Pinon Street.

In the past the patients have been able to get to the emergency department through hallways, however those hallways have been blocked during construction.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.
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