Piedmont Medical Center in Rock Hill hopes to expand its emergency department by adding 11 exam rooms to alleviate crowding.
The state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control has approved the expansion and Piedmont is awaiting permission from Tenet Healthcare, its parent company.
“We’ve known about the need for quite some time and are excited the project is moving forward,” said Bill Masterton, Piedmont’s CEO. “The recent flu season has brought the need into sharper focus.”
Construction of the $19.8 million expansion could start in April and be finished by May 2014, according to the state’s certificate of need application. About 21,000 square feet of space is being added to the hospital’s emergency department.
The new space will be built where the helipad is located. The helipad will move to the roof of the emergency department.
Piedmont officials said expansion should not affect operations at the emergency department, which will remain open during construction.
The emergency department opened in 1996 with 26 rooms and has remained largely unchanged. Last year, more than 60,000 people visited the department and numbers have increased in the past two months with flu cases.
In its application to the state, Piedmont acknowledged that the emergency department was poorly designed, too small and at times patient volume exceeded capacity.
Industry standards are between 1,300 to 1,700 visits per exam room annually. With 60,000 visitors and 26 exam rooms, Piedmont’s rate has been 1,621 room visits. Expanding to 37 rooms would drop that statistic to 1,587.
The plan also calls for emergency department renovations.