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Hospital ER Gets $5 Million Shot in the Arm

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web New ED entrance

The largest financial gift in its history will allow Southampton Hospital to nearly double the size of its emergency room facilities, creating more space for services that have grown along with the South Fork population.

The $5 million gift comes from hedge fund manager John Paulson, chairman and founder of investment firm Paulson & Co., and his wife Jenny.

“As Southampton residents, we have all benefited from the services of the hospital. We are lucky to have such a talented and dedicated team of doctors and caregivers to attend to our emergency needs,” John Paulson said in a release issued by the hospital.

The new facility, which will be named for the benefactors, is scheduled to be completed by May 2010 and is designed to make the operations of the emergency room more efficient. Of note will be a centralized trauma nurse’s station and triage area that will greatly expand the hospital’s ability to triage patients, said hospital spokesperson Marsha Kenny.

Also adding to the efficiency of the new design will be separate entrances for walk-in patients and ambulance arrivals, both of which will be through weather-protected portals. Kenny noted this also will allow the more traumatic cases that typically arrive by ambulance to enter the building away from those sitting in the waiting room.

“As it is now, seeing some of the trauma arrivals can be disturbing,” said Kenny.

In addition to expanded diagnostic and treatment areas, the new design allows for a “fast track” area for less acute illnesses and injuries.

Kenny noted the emergency room typically addresses a wide range of cases, “from severe trauma to fish hooks in fingers,” and the new design will allow the hospital to more easily direct patients to the appropriate care.

Kenny said it was unclear how the number of patients have increased in recent years, but said, gauging from the increase of population on the South Fork, including a growth in second home owners and those who visit, the demand on emergency room services has increased accordingly.

“There has been a lot of construction out here, a lot of new houses and a lot of people,” said Kenny. “We have more traffic, more cars and more second home owners, who have people visiting them. Many of them find their way to our emergency room.”

“A hospital’s growth is reflective of the community it is in,” she said.

She estimated the ER sees about 25,000 patients a year, and on busy days in the summer it would not be unusual for 125 to 130 patients to come through.

The new facility will grow the emergency room from its current 6,250 square feet to 10,100 square feet and add another eight beds, going from 14 to 22.

They will add two trauma rooms, seven patient treatment cubicles, four exam rooms and a decontamination room, the latter something they haven’t had a need for yet, but were planning for the eventuality, said Kenny.

They will also expand the waiting room to accommodate about 30 to 35 people and will add a bereavement room.

“It’s awful for families who have lost someone,” said Kenny.

“This wonderful display of kindness will touch the lives of so many families,” said Peter Larsen, Southampton Hospital Board Chairman, of the gift. “This is a key milestone in the hospital’s long tradition of healthcare excellence and we are deeply appreciative of the Paulsons’ generous support.”

John Paulson, who owns a home in Southampton, was ranked number 33 this year on the Forbes 400 list of wealthiest Americans, with a worth of about $6.8 billion, according to Wikipedia.