ELKHART — Elkhart General Hospital is moving on up — literally.
The hospital has started work on a $74 million construction project that will add three floors to its west wing with 160,000 square feet designated for operating rooms, labs, offices and rooms for patients. Hospital staff celebrated the expansion Tuesday, Dec. 3, by signing a steel beam that will be part of the building's construction. The project marks the hospital's largest, most expensive venture to date.
Beacon Health System CEO Phil Newbold said the expansion will allow the hospital to create a “space for healing.” The project includes the construction of 10 new surgical suites and three endoscopy labs as well as 43 large private rooms for patients in recovery. A link will be built to connect the west wing with the hospital's critical care unit and emergency rooms.
EGH president Greg Losasso noted that the hospital's operating rooms are more than 40 years old and need to be updated with the latest technology. The staff there has outgrown the space, he added.
Pam Goddard, director of surgical and cardiovascular services, agreed that the expansion is a much-needed improvement. She believes the newly built suites will have a “tremendous effect” on everyday work.
“While I'm sure when it was built, it was state-of-the-art back then, but in the last 20 years, we have had a technology explosion, and the way we do surgery today is so much different than then,” she said.
Because of the small space, Goddard said surgical staff is regularly moving medical equipment in and out of the operating rooms.
“As you can imagine, this can really affect our efficiency every day, so in the new O.R., we will actually have the equipment that is used pretty much all day long suspended from the ceiling,” she said. “What that does for the workflow, it frees up floor space, and it also makes it safer for the staff.”
Goddard said the hospital's staff is eager to begin working in the new space. Construction is expected to wrap up in fall 2015.