Visitors to Health and Wellness Services will see a big change this December, when HWS will become the sole occupant of the building in which it now resides. Pullman Memorial Hospital officially will move to its new location on Bishop Boulevard, changing its name along the way to Pullman Regional Hospital.

Every aspect of the hospital will relocate, leaving HWS at a convenient location for the university community. However, HWS will continue to provide services such as lab tests and x-rays, said Dr. Bruce Wright, HWS director.

After the move, HWS will expand into the rest of the first floor and continue to use a majority of the ground floor. The second and third floors will remain empty pending possible allocation of money for renovation in the 2007 biennium.

Once the hospital moves, the HWS pharmacy most likely will be the first to expand. Extra space will give patients more confidentiality while purchasing prescriptions. In addition, the emergency room and urgent care unit will be renovated to suit the needs of HWS. Examination rooms will be enlarged and better enclosed to enhance patient privacy and confidentiality.

Although PMH and HWS have always been separate entities, the two programs shared expertise in a friendly win-win relationship, said Marsha Turnbull, RN, health education administrator for HWS. “We have consulted one another for a second opinion, for the use of equipment and supplies and more,” she said.

An example came during a meningitis outbreak a couple of years ago, when HWS and its patients benefited from close proximity to lab tests and emergency rooms, saving the expense of an ambulance ride to a hospital.

HWS patients will now have to go across town, rather than just across the building, if they need hospital care. Still undecided about how to deal with this issue, HWS may decide to give cab vouchers to patients who are unable to pay the hefty cost of an ambulance ride.

Another concern of HWS staff is the confusion over the HWS location. “We would like to eliminate any concern about the location; we’re not moving,” said Paula Paton, communications coordinator for HWS. “We will still offer the same range of services, at the same location.”

A dedication and lighting ceremony for the new hospital on Friday, Dec. 3, will include Gov. Gary Locke as well as several other public figures. There will be an open house on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 4 and 5, so members of the community may walk around and see areas of the hospital normally off limits to the public.