NORTHAMPTON — Cooley Dickinson Hospital announced it has received a $250,000 gift from Smith College to support the expansion and renovation of Cooley Dickinson’s Emergency Department.
“We are honored and extremely thankful to Smith College for their extraordinary gift of support,” Dr. Lynnette Watkins, president and COO of Cooley Dickinson, said. “For many years, Smith College and Cooley Dickinson Hospital have had a strong partnership; this gift furthers our shared commitment to create a healthy community. Most importantly, their commitment recognizes the importance of providing Smith College students, faculty, and their family and friends with access to the region’s top providers and leading healthcare services.”
The gift from Smith College will support the $19.76 million expansion, reconfiguration, and renovation effort to allow Cooley Dickinson to meet the evolving emergency-medicine needs of the community it serves. To accomplish this goal, the hospital has embarked on an ambitious and comprehensive fundraising campaign. Approximately $6.4 million has been raised to date. The project is expected to break ground this spring.
“Equitable access to healthcare is an essential component of vibrant communities,” Smith College President Kathleen McCartney said. “We are proud to contribute to Cooley Dickinson, which has long offered important support to our students, faculty, and staff, as they expand their Emergency Department and create a specialized healing environment to manage the mental-health concerns prevalent in today’s society, and especially on college campuses.”
Smith College has been a long-time supporter of Cooley Dickinson. Significant donations to the hospital have included helping to fund the hospital’s North Building and Kittredge Surgery Center, as well as its Nurse Development program and comprehensive Breast Center.
Diane Dukette, Cooley Dickinson’s chief Development officer, sees the commitment of both organizations from the perspective of a hospital leader and a Smith College alumna. “It is moving to see two organizations with such similar commitments to the people they serve support each other to care for our communities,” she said. “And personally, as a Smith College alumna, I am so proud to see their investment in the critical, often life-saving work that is performed at the hospital every day. Once again, Smith College has demonstrated their dedication to our region’s health and well-being. We’re incredibly grateful.”
Cooley Dickinson is expected to serve approximately 40,000 Emergency Department patients this year. That care will be provided in a 1970s-era building that was designed for 17,000 patients annually and is currently 40% undersized. A shortage of space means some patients are treated in hallways. The Emergency Department also needs to expand its services to care for an aging population (three times the population from 10 years ago). In addition, the expansion will provide additional beds for people experiencing mental-health emergencies.
The two-year project calls for adding 7,500 square feet of space, including nine new patient rooms; two behavioral-health beds and two ‘flex’ beds to use as patient needs arise; and a family waiting area. When the project is completed, the Emergency Department will occupy more than 23,000 square feet. In addition, a computerized tomography (CT scan) machine, which provides timely access to diagnostic imaging, will be added to the Emergency Department.
“Our priority is to improve the care for those seeking emergency treatment,” Dukette said. “Patients will see a nurse when they arrive. Patients will be treated in single patient rooms that allow for privacy. A nurses’ station in the center of the department means they can respond better to patient needs. Overall, this is about making the Emergency Department as efficient and up-to-date as possible to enable our talented providers to take the best possible care of their patients.”