Aug 28, 2014 11:38 AM by AP
ALEXANDRIA, La. (AP) - Rapides Regional Medical Center is expected to begin construction next week on a $12.5 million expansion of its emergency department.
The Town Talk reports the expansion will nearly double the department beds, from 26 to 51, including four psych beds. It will add 16,370 square feet of space and renovate more than 6,000 of the department's current 20,000 square feet.
"The dynamics of health care have changed," Rapides Regional Chief Executive Officer Jason Cobb said. "We're growing to meet community needs and patient demand needs in Central Louisiana."
Construction is scheduled to begin Tuesday and take about 18 months, with expected completion in early 2016.
Rapides Regional officials said construction will take place in three phases to minimize impact on patients. Current handicap parking spaces will be relocated during construction.
"We want to maintain that good patient flow throughout the project," said Becky Barnes, Rapides Regional chief operating officer.
The driver of the project, hospital officials say, is demand.
The current emergency department was part of a 2008 major expansion. Officials say the department has already outgrown that space.
In 2008, the Rapides Regional emergency department treated 46,866 patients. Last year, that number was 69,201. This year's total is expected to exceed that.
Officials cited an aging population, drawing patients from further away and Rapides Regional 's status as a trauma center as factors in the growing traffic.
"This really is about demand," Barnes said. "Our volume has grown exponentially."