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Connector now open between Samaritan Medical Center, Samaritan Keep Home

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The two-level connector between Samaritan Keep Home and Samaritan Medical Center has been open only since Dec. 13 and already residents, patients and staff see many benefits.

Gabrielle D. Johnson, a licensed practical nurse on the sixth floor of Samaritan Keep Home, and Amanda M. Weir, a certified nursing assistant also on Samaritan Keep Home’s sixth floor, said increased accessibility to both buildings for patients and staff members means less aggravation and more cost savings. It has put an end to going outside with a wheelchair to take a nursing home resident to the hospital.

“The driveway is all bumpy, so you had to go out the side door and then the back door of the hospital,” Ms. Johnson said.

Prior to the construction of the connector, Ms. Weir said, if a Samaritan Keep Home resident had to be transported to the hospital, nursing home staff often would have to call Guilfoyle Ambulance.

Samaritan spokeswoman Krista A. Kittle said the first floor of the 260-foot connector, which goes from the main floor of the hospital to the basement of Samaritan Keep Home, is utilized for transportation of residents and patients, and will bring an annual savings of about $70,000 to the hospital.

“Because there wasn’t an indoor connector we were required to take them by ambulance, and $70,000 in the long-term care world is quite a savings,” Ms. Kittle said. “The most important thing is resident efficiencies and staff not having to get residents out in the cold.”

Each ambulance trip from Samaritan Keep Home to the hospital, which were neighboring buildings, was $800, she said. If a nursing home resident had an emergency and needed hospital care, the resident’s insurance would pay for the trip there, but the hospital would have to pay for the trip back.

The connector’s first floor is also known as the service level, where laundry, dietary, and other similar services gain access to both buildings. The second floor of the connector, which goes from the first floor of the nursing home to the second floor of the hospital, is geared toward hospital patients and visitors.

Although the connector’s alcoves are now empty, Ms. Kittle said furniture will arrive later this winter or early spring.

Beginning at the revamped front entrance of Samaritan Keep Home, which now includes a foyer and an overhang to protect residents being dropped off or picked up, the connector’s second floor leads to an inside gazebo where people can relax. A covered patio will surround the gazebo, and healing gardens will be planted once the weather improves. Ms. Kittle said those outside details should be complete by spring.

The connector also has other perks, Mrs. Johnson and Ms. Weir said. Mrs. Johnson likes to use the connector to get sandwiches at the hospital each Wednesday for lunch, and Ms. Weir said it’s easier taking samples from the nursing home to the hospital for laboratory services.

Prior to the construction of the connector, cars could utilize Pratt Street to get from Sherman Street to Washington Street. Although traffic has since been re-routed, the connector is now a symbol of bringing the hospital and nursing home together.

“It was almost like we were two organizations before and we’re not; we’re one, “ she said. “Now it’s more seamless than before.”

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