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New Johnson County emergency room opens and COVID-19 unit moves

Posted at 9:27 AM, Aug 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-03 09:30:11-04

FRANKLIN — A new emergency room is opening in Johnson County. This comes after a multi-million dollar investment in improving access to healthcare in the area.

As the Johnson Memorial Hospital opens for its first patients, the hospital will have more room and technology to handle medical emergencies.

"We also have new advancements in the ER. We have lifts in the trauma room, more containments in case of chemical spills," Dr. Dave Dunkle, Johnson Memorial Hospital's president and CEO, said.

The new emergency room was where the COVID-19 unit was placed; now, it moved to the second floor. The newly relocated unit has six isolation rooms.

Since the pandemic began, Johnson Memorial has treated as many as seven COVID-19 patients at one time.

Lissy Miller is among the RN's on duty.

"The real deal working on the frontlines," Lissy Miller, a registered nurse at Johnson Memorial, said. "We have seen so many cases and how bad things can get. Definitely wear a mask and social distance."

It's been a tough road for small hospitals to weather the COVID-19 tsunami.

It's battered and bruised many budgets, and Johnson Memorial, like others, finds itself in stable condition.

"The leadership in this organization has always focused on staying financially sound," Miller said. "Sometimes, that means not investing in all service lines. We don't have a cath lab. We don't have radiation oncology. We haven't been able to bring everything to this campus--we have to be fiscally sound."

The new ER will now have 26 beds. The old ER had 15.

The old ER facility could be used for other purposes, and the hospital says it's under review.