News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

Hospital announces emergency room expansion

Reporter for The Canyon Weekly

Santiam Hospital has launched a $5 million fundraising campaign to expand emergency room service at the Stayton-based hospital.

Hospital officials say the plan will double the facility’s emergency room capacity from seven rooms to 14, while also providing technology upgrades, including power updates for crisis and disaster preparedness.

Hospital officials said this is the first major upgrade to the emergency department since 2008. The local population as well as emergency room visits have grown significantly since that time. In 2022, officials said, visits are on track to exceed 18,000, a 30 percent increase in five years.

“In order to maintain our commitment to excellence in health care and meet the needs of our growing community, it is imperative we invest in our infrastructure,” said Dr. Guesly Dessieux, physician and Board President of Santiam Hospital & Clinics Foundation. “The expansion will shorten wait times, improve the overall patient experience in the ER and enhance the working environment for our dedicated providers.”

The campaign also marks the debut of the hospital foundation, said Lauren Benjamin, marketing coordinator.

“This is the first time in its history the hospital has established a formal foundation,” Benjamin said. 

“The very first fundraising campaign was in the 1950s when the community members of the Santiam Canyon came together to build this hospital. Members of both the Frank family and the Freres family were instrumental leaders in the original fundraising efforts. 

“This is a very exciting time for our community, and for the hospital, as we look forward to the opportunities of future growth with a vibrant foundation. “ 

The two long-time hospital benefactors noted above, meanwhile, have taken the lead in getting the new campaign off to a flying start. The A.J. Frank Family and Freres Engineered Wood both have contributed $1 million to get the foundation to 40% of its goal. Both Frank and Freres have been involved with the hospital since it was built in 1953, with Freres donating the land on which the original hospital was built.

Benjamin noted that before the doors opened in 1953 more than 3,000 individuals and businesses contributed to the initial fundraising campaign that made the hospital possible. Foundation leaders hope the current ER campaign will inspire the participation of donors throughout the region.

“An investment in this project is an investment in the health and vitality of our community,” said Dessieux. “We invite everyone throughout the Santiam Canyon to get behind this project and partner with the foundation to meet the fundraising goal. Gifts of all sizes will help get us there.”

The expansion project consists of both new construction and the re-design and renovation of existing spaces within the hospital.

“The new ER expansion,” said Benjamin, “will extend the current ER footprint in the adjacent hospital space that used to support the old laboratory and the old surgery wing of the original hospital.”

Benjamin said that the goal is to achieve the $5 million campaign goal by the end of March 2023.

“We expect to break ground in March 2023,” she said, “in order to open early fall 2023.”

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