By Connie Morrison —
The hospital that has been in the works for years, and under construction for two, opens Saturday. The emergency room, labor and delivery and operating rooms at Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital, in Onley, begin receiving patients for the first time at 7 a.m.
Beginning at 8 a.m. Saturday, a caravan of seven to 10 ambulances is scheduled to begin transporting patients to the new hospital. The ambulances will be spaced 10 minutes apart, with labor and delivery patients moving first, followed by ICU, and then medical/surgical.
“Once the last ambulance leaves the parking lot, security will put a barricade across the driveway to make it apparent that it is no longer a functioning hospital,” said Sally Schreiber, spokesperson for Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital. The blue “H” signs that point the way to the Nassawadox hospital will also be taken down at 7 a.m.
“It’s a lot of people in motion,” said Riverside spokesman Peter Glagola. The hospital census — or number of beds occupied — stood at 46 on Wednesday, but that number was expected to change before Saturday’s patient relocation.
The move is being managed from a command center with personnel who have trained in responding to scenarios that might arise, including weather contingencies.
Schreiber said the team was pleasantly surprised by the warmth. “We planned for snow; we didn’t plan for 70-degree temperatures,” she said. A consulting firm was engaged to help with the planning. Even though an ambulance every 10 minutes sounds like a lot of traffic, “our consultant assures us it will be anti-climactic,” Schreiber said.
Preliminary activities were underway earlier this week. Tuesday was the last day for scheduled inpatient or outpatient procedures. “It’s not that the OR (operating room) closed; we just weren’t scheduling any non-emergency procedure,” said Schreiber. The Cancer Center move was largely complete on Wednesday. The specialty clinics were scheduled to move today (Friday). The community, said Schreiber, has been helpful in getting information out about the move. The relocation is expected to be complete by early afternoon.