FORT SMITH, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Mercy Hospital Fort Smith announced plans for a $162 million expansion of its emergency room and intensive care unit on Wednesday.
According to a release from the hospital, the move will expand Mercy Fort Smith’s ER space from 29 to 50 rooms and increase ICU capacity from 38 to 64 in a concept it says will provide better workflow and flexibility.
“It will increase our ability to care for more patients and will actually improve the care we provide,” said Dr. Paul Bean, chief of medical affairs at Mercy Fort Smith.. “It will allow us to expand the services that we provide, which will allow patients to stay in Fort Smith for the care they need.”
The new emergency department will allow the hospital to see about 25,000 more patients each year, including special considerations for infectious disease as well as behavioral health patients.
Mercy Fort Smith says it will add an additional 140 parking spaces to accommodate the expansion, with parking closer to the new ER entrance.
The added ICU beds will more than double the rooms capable of supporting ventilators, and the building automation system is designed to allow for floors or pods to be turned into isolation areas as needed.
“Everything about this expansion will enhance our ability to serve our community,” said Debbie Hewett, director of critical care services at Mercy Fort Smith. “Not only will we be increasing our capacity to better serve our community, but patients and families will be more comfortable in the larger, state-of-the-art rooms with adequate space for family while they visit, whether in the patient room or in one of two family/visitor lounges on each floor.”
The new garage and lower-level emergency department entry will be set up to “allow for dealing with a mass casualty event and quick set-up for pandemic response,” according to the hospital’s release.
Other plans include a 22-bed observation unit requiring no renovation in the former ICU space, helipad relocation that will improve the patient transport process, and new gift shop and meeting room space.
Groundbreaking on the expansion project is expected in early 2022, with construction expected to last just over two years.
The hospital says plans are being developed to minimize the impact to Mercy patients during the construction process.