Hospital expansion at halfway point, on target, officials say


Carroll County General Hospital's largest expansion project is on schedule as it reaches the halfway point of its first phase.

Steel beams that form the skeleton for what will be a new emergency department, along with a makeshift lobby and relocated offices, are some of the signs that work is well under way on the $80 million project.

The first phase of the expansion is in line to meet its projected October completion date, said Maurice E. Spielman, the Westminster hospital's director of facilities.

The entire project is to span two years and add more than 100,000 square feet to the hospital, for a total of 378,000 square feet. The first phase includes a new and larger emergency department, a five-story tower and a new front entrance.

The new main entrance will have a much wider waiting area "so seats won't be on top of each other like they were before," he said.

The rumbling of bulldozers and the clanging of metal are heard by patients and visitors who, for now, enter the hospital through a temporary lobby next to the emergency department. Also relocated to this end of the hospital are the gift shop and the admitting and registration departments.

About 400 feet away, beams are in place for the new emergency department, which at 21,250 square feet is to be double the size of the current facility. Work crews there are beginning to pour the concrete floors and lay out the interior walls, Spielman said. By the end of this month, they'll start putting up the walls.

"Our emergency department needed this expansion very badly," Spielman said. "The community outgrew it. We also needed the patient tower. It's a huge need for the community and a great asset."

The steel beams of the five-story tower have been set atop the hospital's south wing. That will double the number of private medical and surgical rooms to 81.

The hospital broke ground on the first phase of its expansion in June. The additions and improvements, approved by the Maryland Health Care Commission early last year, are designed to help the hospital meet the medical needs of a growing county, hospital officials have said.

When ground was broken, the hospital launched Fulfilling the Promise, a campaign to raise $8 million in private money for the expansion. The hospital has received pledges for $7 million over the next three to five years and has collected about $2 million. The project is also being paid for through bonds and cash reserves.

Hospital managers, directors and staff have pledged $450,000 to the effort.

"It really speaks well to the commitment of people who work here," said Theresa Fletcher, the hospital's director of marketing and public relations.

When the hospital opened its doors 42 years ago, it had 50 beds and 125 employees. The hospital has grown through several expansions and upgrades in nearly every decade since.

Today it has 172 beds and nearly 2,000 employees, including nearly 450 physicians and 457 nurses.

The hospital annually treats about 44,000 patients in its emergency department and admits more than 13,000 patients. Last month the emergency department took in 3,600 people, while 1,200 were admitted into in-patient care.

The second phase of the project -- which involves relocating such programs as cardiac rehabilitation and the hospital sleep lab to space now occupied by the emergency department -- is set to begin immediately after the completion of the first phase, Fletcher said. During the second phase, the hospital also will add specialized centers for wound care, diabetes and pulmonary rehabilitation, she said.

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