NEWTON-Newton Memorial Hospital officials hope you may never have to use it, but if the need ever arises, they want area residents to know the hospital is ready to treat any emergency with state-of-the-art technology and the latest medical procedures in its new multi-million dollar ER. Newton Memorial Hospital will be showing off its new Emergency Services Department starting at noon on Saturday, Jan. 29. Area residents are invited to the grand opening and encouraged to tour the new facility, before they have to use it. Newton Memorial broke ground on the new $14.8 million Emergency Services Department, the Hospital's largest expansion project to date, on Sept. 25, 2003. The new construction covers 14,902 square feet, plus the 7,508 square feet of existing ER, which will be renovated in phase two of the project. When completed the facility will cover a total of 22,410 square feet. The new state-of-the-art facility features 23 private and completely enclosed treatment rooms. Three beds designated for Critical Care and two for Behavioral Health, as well as seven "Fast Track" beds, for critically ill trauma patients, for a total of 30 new beds. The current ER only houses 14 beds total. Three diagnostic rooms will provide on-site imaging exclusively for Emergency Services, including one CAT Scan and two digital X-rays. And the spacious main reception and waiting area includes three registration booths and a capacity for 50 people. Perhaps the most important improvement in Emergency Services is the increased patient capacity that the new facility will provide. The new department will be able to accommodate 45,000 patient visits per year. The existing ER, an area originally intended to treat only 15,000 annually, recorded over 30,000 patient visits in both 2003 and 2004. The new facility was designed to alleviate the crowding of getting into the ER, and the new service capacity allows for 3 percent annual increases over the next 10 years. "It shows the quality of the Emergency Services Department staff that they have been able to provide top professional service to the tri-state area regardless of space restrictions," stated Dennis H. Collette, President and CEO of Newton Memorial Hospital. "And thanks to the community and the (hospital) Foundation's fund raising efforts, the new facility was paid for as it was built. We did not have to borrow money to do it!" Addressing the tripled volume capacity of the new facility, David Mattes, MD, Chief of Staff and Chief of the Emergency Services Department said, "the need was obvious." Visits to Newton Memorial's Emergency Services Department have increased nearly 6 percent annually since the early 1990s. And a physician schedule that originally had one doctor beginning a shift at 7 a.m. and one at 7 p.m., now sees three ER physicians clocking in staggered at 7, 10 and 11 in the morning, so that three doctors are available for emergencies in the middle of the day. Another doctor arrives at 7 p.m. for the night shift. Additionally, over 60 percent of Newton Memorial's admitted overnight patients come through the ER, where the national average is around 40 percent. Mattes attributed the large increase of patient visits in recent years to two key factors. "The confidence in our physicians and the reputation of our service has people driving past other hospitals to come to our ER," said Mattes, who also cited the lack of evening and/or weekend availability of primary care physicians in the area as a major factor in increased patient visits during those hours. Mattes is confident that the new facility "will add to the speed and accuracy of diagnosing and treating patients coming to the ER." In fact, he is hopeful to announce publicly a guaranteed patient care wait time n maximum initial waiting time before an emergency patient is seen by a nurse or doctor n within six months of opening the new facility. Renovation of the existing Emergency Department is currently slated to be completed by August of this year, and fully conjoined with the new facility by fall. "The new ER is a new beginning for our staff, and a new opportunity to be the premier venue in this area of the state," said Mattes. In 1932 Newton Memorial Hospital opened its doors to patients. Today, it is a tri-state healthcare institution with off-site health and wellness centers in Sparta and Milford, Pennsylvania, the Sparta Cancer Treatment Center, the Renal Center in Newton and offices in Vernon. The Hospital's patient base has grown to encompass all of Sussex County, eastern Warren County, and northwestern Morris County, as well as southern Orange County, New York and eastern Pike County, Pennsylvania. Over the past decade, Newton Memorial Hospital's patient satisfaction survey scores have skyrocketed to the top 10 percent in the nation, according to surveys conducted by Press, Ganey Associates. Newton Memorial's nurses have been ranked in the top 1 percent in the country and number one in New Jersey. "This facility is a wonderful addition to the community, and will enable us to continue serving the community for many years to come," concluded Collete.