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M*A*S*H Matures in Pinewoods

Grove Hill’s emergency room needs will be met in this mobile unit until fall when permanent facilities are complete.

Grove Hill’s emergency room needs will be met in this mobile unit until fall when permanent facilities are complete.

A town like Grove Hill needs its emergency room all the time, given that the nearest options are 45 minutes north or 20 minutes south, which can be a long time when someone’s hurting.

But the town of about 1,500 people — in Clarke County, in the pinewoods of southwest Alabama — had an ER that needed a complete overhaul. The solution ended up being a first-of-its-kind mobile hospital capable of disappearing altogether when the new ER is ready.

Grove Hill Memorial Hospital administrators and Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood Architect Paul Fridl embraced the idea of a mobile emergency department that could connect to the existing facility, provide medical services during construction and pack up and move once the new facility was completed. 

The mobile hospital, one of only two in the country, can provide comprehensive patient care, even at the site of a disaster or other mass casualty situation. Carolinas MED-1 can also function as a temporary emergency department, as is the case at Grove Hill Memorial Hospital. This is only the second time it has been used in this capacity, and the first time it has been used in Alabama. 

General contractor and construction management firm Robins & Morton has played an integral role in the logistical planning of the mobile unit and the project’s scheduling.

People are excited to see change,” Grove Hill Memorial Hospital Administrator Emily Steadham said. “Before, we could tell them that we were going to build them a new emergency department, but now they can actually see it happening.”

The addition will encompass 4,500 square feet and house nine exam and treatment rooms, a two-bay trauma room, expanded waiting area, efficient triage and direct access to the operating rooms and will be able to accommodate the emergency needs of the entire county. Construction is under way and slated for completion in fall of 2016.

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