by Ralph Nichols 
Saturday (April 10) will be a big day for Burien and the surrounding Highline community. Thatâ€™s when local residents will have an opportunity to casually look around a major new medical facility â€“ one that none of us hopes we will ever have to experience â€œup close and personal.â€
Yet statistics indicate that sometime, either as a patient or the family or friend of a patient, many of us will need to visit the long-awaited, state-of-the-art new Emergency Department at Highline Medical Center.
A grand opening celebration will be held Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the $60 million addition â€“ which includes a new Patient Care Unit above the ground-level Emergency Department (the fifth floor if you go in the main hospital entrance) and a parking garage for patients and families beneath it.
The Emergency Department and Patient Care Unit are located at the northwest corner of Highline Medical Center at 16251 Sylvester Rd. SW in Burien.
In addition to guided tours, which will include opportunities to meet some of the physicians and nurses who staff the Emergency Department and see some of its advanced technology, the grand opening will feature a health fair and other fun and informative activities for the whole family.
Special events include appearances by fitness expert Bob Harper from NBC TVâ€™s The Biggest Loser at 11 a.m., Grant Goodeve from KING TVâ€™s Northwest Backroads at 1 p.m., and the Pacific Science Centerâ€™s â€œSENSE-ationalâ€ at 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
When the new 27,000 square foot Emergency Department opens to patients next week, it will replace the existing 9,000 square foot, 50-year-old facility that was designed to handle 12,000 patients a year but now provides care for almost 50,000 patients annually â€“ making it one of the busiest in the region.
The new patient-friendly facility will decrease dramatically waiting times for triage and treatment, and significantly increase the working environment for physicians, nurses, imaging and laboratory technicians, and everyone else who works and volunteers there.
Highline Medical Center CEO Mark Benedum describes it as â€œa facility thatâ€™s up to the care the staffâ€™s been providing.â€
Benedum says, â€œWe hope [people] wonâ€™t need our new ER. But in the event they do, we will be here for them.â€
Patients coming into the new Emergency Department through its main west entrance will be taken first to one of three private triage rooms, which will speed their initial evaluation as well as reduce their time in the bright and airy general waiting area.
Next they will go to any of the 32 large, private treatment rooms, where admitting can be done at bedside. Every treatment room is universally equipped â€“ â€œhardwiredâ€ â€“ with state-of-the-art technology to handle any emergency.
The ambulance entrance â€“ with an ambulance bay that can accommodate about a dozen emergency vehicles including police cars â€“ is on the north side of the Emergency Department. Two trauma rooms for acute emergencies such as heart attacks are immediately inside. Each can handle two patients if necessary.
Two diagnostic imaging rooms â€“ one for x-ray, the other for CT scans, both dedicated for emergency patients â€“ and a separate diagnostic imaging waiting room are located just beyond the triage rooms.
The high-speed, high-resolution, state-of-the-art CT scanner takes 64 image slices at one time, giving radiologists and emergency physicians three-dimensional views of the body, while exposing patients to less radiation.
Its uses include evaluating strokes, traumatic injuries, fractures, blood vessel abnormalities, internal injuries, pneumonia, bowel obstruction, kidney stones and even appendicitis.
The Emergency Department also includes two seclusion rooms for psychiatric and other patients who require additional security, an isolation room for highly contagious patients, a decontamination room with an outside entrance for disasters and contact with hazardous materials, a separate area for first responders â€“ emergency medical and law enforcement personnel â€“ to write their reports, and a private family consultation room.
More info available at Highline Medical Center’s website .
- Grand Opening Of Highline Medical Centerâ€™s New ER Facility Is April 10 
- Temporary Occupancy Approved For Highline Medical Centerâ€™s New E.R. 
- Highline Medical Centerâ€™s New Emergency Dept. Set To Open April 9-10