Adventist Medical Center christens new, expanded Emergency Center

If you’re suddenly taken ill, or are in a bad accident in outer East Portland, you’re lucky! You’ll find out why, when you take a look at all our own hospital’s Emergency Department has to offer – even to those who are destitute …

Far more than a cramped Emergency Room, AMC’s new Emergency Department is staffed and equipped to care of patients who come in with all kinds of medical emergencies.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Outer East Portland’s Adventist Medical Center (AMC) no longer has an “ER” – Emergency Room.

As of December 1st, this medical campus instead offers a complete Emergency Department.

“It’s far more than a ‘room’,” assured the President of AMC, Tom Russell, with a smile, when we asked why they don’t call it an “ER” any longer.

“When an ambulance drives up, it parks in a portal, fully protected from east winds and rain,” explained Russell. “Life Flight can land on a special roof-top helicopter pad directly above the department. Inside, several patient-treatment rooms are available – including four psychiatric holding rooms. If the patent is having a cardiac emergency, they can be taken directly to the Cardiac Care Pavilion, just down the hall.”

Russell added that AMC’s Emergency Department is now one of only two “Chest Pain Centers” in the region.

The new Emergency Department is just one of the major additions AMC has made recently. Read about others in our previous story on AMC’s new Northwest Regional Heart Center: CLICK HERE.

Adventist Medical Center President Tom Russell speaks at the inauguration of their new Emergency Department.

The place to be with a heart attack
At their preview on November 24, Russell told governmental officials, emergency service representatives, and employees, “Behind these walls, we currently have staff who are caring for emergency medical patients. We have nurses, technicians, doctors in there seeing roughly 46,000 patients a year, making it one of the busiest emergency departments in the metro area.”

From a nicely-appointed waiting room – such as one might expect in a trendy downtown luxury hotel – the hospital welcomes patients, Russell pointed out. “Why do we have a fireplace and big-screen television and more, in the waiting room?  To the extent we’re able to decrease the anxiety of family members, and help the patent relax a little bit, we feel it helps physicians treat patients.”

One in three heart attack victims in the region comes to AMC, Russell continued. “We’re appreciative of our partners, American Medical Response and Life Flight. We’ve authorized them to activate our staff here – and our cardiac catheterization labs – right from the field, if needed.”

Russell concluded, “We do all this in way that demonstrates the healing ministry of Jesus Christ. That’s why we come to work every day.”

Oregon State Representative Jefferson Smith, says he hopes the hospital will continue to give care to the area’s needy people.

Rep. Smith advocates for indigent care
At the ceremony, Oregon State Representative Jefferson Smith congratulated the hospital administration and staff.

“First I want to say ‘thank you’ to the people here, who’ve been involved in this project, and the people who support the hospital,” Smith said. “It is a little bit humbling and daunting to do speak at a gathering like this – those of you versed in the administration and operating of facilities in the healthcare industry know far more than I do about the topic.”

After sharing two of his favorite anecdotes, Smith continued, “To the people who may serve on the hospital’s board, and to people who might be influence-makers within the institution, it’s important that you know we’re now standing in the poorest area in the region.”

Smith said that when he started running for office, 70% of students in the David Douglas School District were eligible for free or reduced-price lunches. “At the end my campaign, the new data point said it was 72%. By the way, at the end of my first legislative session, that figure has gone up to 75% of the students on free or reduced-price lunch programs.

“It might be better if emergency rooms were a little tucked away, so not just everybody goes there to receive uncompensated clinical care. One also must understand that this hospital centrally-located in one of the most poverty-challenged areas in the entire state, and certainly in this region. I thank you for, and am asking for, your continued attention to that area.”

Hospital provides $30 million annually in charity care
After the formal remarks, we asked Russell to comment on Rep. Smith’s plea.

“We believe that we have a responsibility to care for everyone in the community,” Russell told us. “This includes indigent patients. In the health care debate, some are quick to blame the healthcare industry, saying the poor are uncared for. But, we know that they do have access to healthcare – every day – because we see them in our facility.”

Russell estimated that each year, AMC provides about $30 million worth of services in charity care. “As Rep. Jefferson Smith commented, this is one of the poorer areas of the marketplace; we think it’s important to be here, serving everyone to the best of our ability.”

-4 Dr. Kelli Westcott MD – she says she’s “second in command” at the hospital’s Emergency Department – talks about actions, grand and small, done with love.

Small deeds done with great love
Emergency physician Dr. Kelli Westcott, MD, shared two stores with the gathered group.

“I was paged to the reception desk a few months ago,” Wescott related. “A big, tall man was standing there. He looked at my nametag and asked, ‘Don’t you remember me? I’m the man you saved on Saturday night! How could you not remember me?’”

Wescott said it then occurred to her that this man was brought in by Life Flight; she pulled together staff, including a cardiologist who was already in their cardiac catheterization lab. “All we did was make him comfortable until he could be treated.”

AMC technician Olga Garkavets preparers a patient room in the emergency department for the next patient.

The second story Wescott told was regarding an elderly lady who only spoke Creole. “We went looking for a Creole translator. By the time we got back to check on the patient, a member of our housekeeping staff was talking with the patient. She wasn’t family – but she spoke Creole and was comforting the woman – and translated for us.”

Westcott then quoted Mother Teresa. “There are no great deeds. There are small deeds done with great love. I pledge to you that we, by the grace of God, will do some great things in this emergency department. And, we also promise to do all the small things with great love.”

Adventist Medical Center is located at 10123 SE Market Street. To learn more, see their website: CLICK HERE.

Checking one of his Emergency Department’s records is Dr. Enoch Huang, MD.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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