With construction workers waiting in the wings, Piedmont Medical Center officially launched a $20 million expansion of its emergency department on Tuesday.
The year-long construction was already underway with workers digging dirt and pouring concrete. During construction access to the emergency department will be from Dr. Frank Gaston Boulevard, the road that loops around the hospital property. Dr. Frank Gaston Boulevard is accessible from Ebenezer Road and Herlong Avenue.
Numerous signs at the hospital direct traffic to the emergency department.
Construction is expected to take about a year.
The construction crew paused long enough Tuesday for Piedmont officials and local dignitaries to toss the ceremonial first shovels, in this case filled with sand instead of dirt.
The 21,000-square-foot expansion will double the emergency department space. Eleven private exam rooms will be added as well as 16 public areas, giving the staff more than 50 locations for patient assistance.
Were moving the needle forward, said Bill Masterton, Piedmonts chief executive officer. This is a tangible sign of our improvement.
The addition will help Piedmont Medical Center keep pace with a growing community, he said.
Hospital officials estimate that about one in five people in York County use Piedmonts emergency department annually.
In 2012, Piedmonts emergency department saw 67,000 patients. The 2013 numbers are expected to be higher.
In November, the department averaged 192 patients per day, said Teresa ONeill, a registered nurse and emergency department director. That number is expected to be more than 200 per day in December.
With the added space and new equipment we will be ready for anything, she said.
ONeill has been part of the Piedmont team that has been working to improve the emergency department for the past three years.
To convince the hospitals parent company, Tenet, that more space was needed Masterton said Piedmont changed its processes to become more efficient. When there were still emergency department needs after these improvements Piedmont sought funding from Tenet for the expansion, Masterton said.
The hospital has already finished moving its helipad to near the front of the emergency department. Originally, hospital officials envisioned the pad on the roof of the emergency department but that proved to be too costly.
Don Worthington • 803-329-4066