St. Elizabeth Hospital’s first year a success

With more than 14,000 emergency room visits, 1,658 surgeries performed and 276 babies born, everyone at St. Elizabeth Hospital seems to have charged through the first year in fine form.

Hospital President Dennis Popp said the first year in a new hospital brought some anticipated glitches but, all things considered, St. Elizabeth met all expectations.

It was February 2011 when doctors and patients, nurses and others made the short trek across Battersby Avenue, leaving Enumclaw Regional Hospital behind and entering the era of St. Elizabeth.

During the 12 months that followed, the 281 employees were responsible for 17,563 outpatient visits and 1,528 patients who were not only admitted, but wound up spending a night or more. There were 22 cases where helicopter transportation was necessary.

Popp, a longtime fixture as the head administrator at the old hospital and now at St. Elizabeth, said there was a concern about retaining the small-town culture when moving into larger, state-of-the-art digs. That was pulled off without a hitch, Popp said.

“It was a unique opportunity for a smaller hospital,” he said. “I’m very proud that we were able to do it.”

Popp said a few tweaks were needed after move-in day. For example, large windows in hallways were partially masked to promote patient privacy. But problems have been few and far between, he added.

A bigger issue followed the move, when longtime employees were witness to the demolition of Enumclaw Memorial just a short distance away.

“It was tough on a lot of people, it really was,” Popp said. “But time heals a little bit of that.”

He points with pride to the growing list of professional peers from throughout the Pacific Northwest who have strolled St. Elizabeth’s halls, gathering nuggets of wisdom as they contemplate new hospitals of their own.

“We’ve been tickled pink to show them around this building,” Popp said.


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