FRONT ROYAL — One of the most exciting and necessary features at the new Warren County hospital is its long-anticipated helipad.

Limited on space, Warren Memorial Hospital has been using its parking lot for helipad access, and Emergency Department Clinical Manager Delores Gehr said the hospital has to ask employees to move their cars anytime they need to allow access for emergency medical air transport.

“This is a tremendous upgrade and obviously much, much safer,” she said of the new helipad.

As the new hospital nears completion, staff from Valley Health are inviting area fire and rescue personnel to tour the facility in the coming days and familiarize themselves with the additional and improved community services.

The new hospital on Leach Run Parkway in northeastern Front Royal is scheduled to open in late June and take over operations from the existing Warren Memorial Hospital on North Shenandoah Avenue.

It will serve the same population as the current Warren hospital, Gehr said.

The most critical care patients will still likely be moved or referred to Winchester Medical Center, about 30 minutes northwest of Front Royal, she said.

However, the new Warren County hospital will offer more services than currently available in Front Royal, including increased access to high-quality diagnostic and interventional services like cardiac catheterization, as well as bariatric services and a medical imaging suite. The Emergency Department will have a dedicated CT unit, with a second unit onsite to handle in-patient needs.

The Clinical Decision Unit will provide care for patients with urgent needs who are under observation but haven’t yet been admitted to the hospital.

The Critical Care Step Down Unit will offer an intermediate level of care between intensive care needs and general hospital care.

Brighter, more open and more efficient, the new hospital will be “as patient-focused as possible,” said Ellen Pesto, program manager in Valley Health’s public relations office.

The main hospital entrance will guide visitors to a registration area and provide easy access to adjoining rooms, minimizing the amount of on-campus travel that patients have to do between tests and procedures. A retail pharmacy is near the entrance, and a wall of windows features a westward view of the mountains including Strasburg’s Signal Knob. Downstairs by the Emergency Department will be a cafeteria.

Planning a 4 to 1 ratio of patients to nursing staff, Gehr said the hospital has additional resources to add staff and rooms as needed.

Currently, though, the staff from Warren Memorial is preparing for a mid-week, single-day move in late June.

At the new hospital, they will re-register all patients, swapping out old wristbands for new ones and ensuring patients are correctly identified.

Most of the hospital equipment will also be new — stretchers equipped with scales, new intravenous fluid carts, new computers and televisions that will help patients feel more at ease while waiting for treatments or recovering from illness.

Other additions include a designated area for personal protective equipment as well as a two-room decontamination area for patients exhibiting dangerous infectious illness.

Numbered doors make the facility easily navigable from the outside, and Knox emergency key boxes will allow Emergency Medical Services to enter the hospital if otherwise unable while also alerting security inside.

The existing hospital has 13 rooms in a 17,000-square-foot Emergency Department. The new facility will offer 18 rooms in a larger 22,000-square-foot space, plus 36 private rooms (12 for critical care.)

It’s “an incredibly exciting time for the community,” Pesto said.

Though planning to open during the COVID-19 pandemic, Gehr assured that the hospital will be a clean and safe space for serving the community’s health needs.

“It’s safe to come if you need treatment,” she said.

Contact Josette Keelor at jkeelor@nvdaily.com