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EMRMC undertaking $500,000 construction project

August 17, 2003

Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center is undertaking a $500,000 construction/renovation project that will result in new spaces for three units while also adding 14 acute care beds. The construction project, which should be completed by the first of November, will also involve relocating the beds now used by the Medical Center's Transitional Care Unit and Behavioral Health Unit.

"We are pleased to be undertaking this construction project, which will create newly renovated areas for our Transitional Care Unit, Behavioral Health Unit and a new Medical/Surgical Unit," said Barry Michael, president of Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center. "These 14 additional acute care beds are greatly needed in the community."

Transitional care is a service where patients have been in acute care but need more rehabilitation prior to being discharged, according to medical center spokeswoman Mary Begley. Behavioral care is psychiatric care, she said.

Four Tower West has already been renovated, and that work is waiting to be reviewed by the state, to ensure specific regulations are met, said Begley.

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The need for additional acute care beds has been realized over the past couple of years as the Medical Center has experienced a higher than normal patient census. Historically, the Medical Center's patient census has experienced peaks during the winter months that have caused the facility to be on "bed alert." That is a situation where the number of available beds reaches a critical point.

"Recently, the peaks in patient census have occurred on a more constant basis, so we now have an immediate need for these additional acute care beds," Michael said. "While the tower expansion project proposed a year ago would have provided more critical care beds and an expanded outpatient surgery area, it would not have increased the number of acute care beds."

The additional beds are just one phase of the construction project. The project also involves moving the Transitional Care Unit from the fourth floor of the North Building to the fourth floor of the Hospital Tower, which now houses the Behavioral Health Unit. The Behavioral Health Unit is relocating to the fourth floor of the North Building. Each of the three units are being completely refurbished. Because of the renovation, some patients will be moved and Begley estimated that will take place within several weeks. But patient care is not expected to be interrupted during the construction project.

"The relocation of these units will place them where they are best suited geographically in our facility," said Begley.

The construction project will also enable the Medical Center to centralize its orthopedic and oncology patients. This will enhance the specialty education of the nursing staff to meet the needs of these patients.

"We anticipate better patient outcomes once we are able to have these groups of patients in centralized areas," Michael said.

Wehr Constructors, Inc., in Louisville has been hired for the construction project. The company has done all construction on the medical center since 1974. The $500,000 project also includes the cost of some new beds and equipment.

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