Thursday, July 16, 2020
Tomah Area Ambulance Service EMT Sandy Fick, left, Tomah Health clinical educator Heidi Stalsberg, MSN, RN, and Tomah Area Ambulance Service paramedic Lisa Hart transport a patient during a move exercise at Tomah Health. Staff will move patients from Tomah Memorial Hospital to Tomah Health Oct. 2. Contributed photo

TMH staff prepare for move to Tomah Health

After months of planning and training, officials at Tomah Memorial Hospital say they are ready to transfer patients to the new Tomah Health when the facility opens Oct. 2.

Together with emergency medical services (EMS) from five area ambulance services, hospital employees completed the final of three patient move exercises Wednesday.

“This was our third exercise which included volunteers as real patients which gave us a better feel for what it will be like on move day,” said hospital Chief Nursing Officer Tracy Myhre who filled the role of incident commander during the event.

Eight volunteer patients were moved from Tomah Memorial to Tomah Health in about 60 minutes, which Myhre said is something that does not happen every day.

“You don’t move a hospital every day and here we are transferring patients from one hospital unit to our new hospital, so the dynamics are just a little bit different but helps us to be better prepared,” said Myhre.

The exercises have included staff from area ambulance departments including Tomah, Sparta, Camp Douglas, Wilton and Gundersen Tri-State Ambulance in LaCrosse that Tomah Memorial Emergency Preparedness Specialist James Newlun said helps everyone for move day. “It demonstrates our community’s ability to collaborate and work together,” said Newlun. “It’s been a great effort by the EMS and our hospital staff.” Area ambulances will also be part of the actual move of patients Oct. 2.

Tomah Area Ambulance Service paramedic Adam Robarge said the Tomah Health patient exercises have been well organized and will help to make for a good transfer.

“It made patient movement very simple for us and it should go smooth on the day of move,” said Robarge. “We knew exactly what we were supposed to do when we arrived at the hospital – where we were to stage how we were to move through the hospital and then when we arrived at the new hospital where to go and what steps to follow when we go there,” explained Robarge. “I expect the move day to go very smooth.”

Robarge said he is impressed with Tomah Health, but will miss Tomah Memorial where he has transported patients for the last 18 years. “What I’m going to love about the new hospital is better access to the ER (emergency room) for us with the same great staff and same great care.”

Like Tomah Memorial Hospital, Tomah Health will operate as an independent, 25-bed critical access hospital a designation that the hospital achieved in 2001. The U.S. Congress developed the designation as part of the 1997 Balanced Budget Act in response to a string of hospital closures in the 1980s and early 1990s designed to reduce the financial vulnerability of rural hospitals and improve access to health care by keeping essential services in rural communities.

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