Expansion at Booneville hospital under way
By Marty Russell
BOONEVILLE – A $2 million expansion at Baptist Memorial Hospital Booneville will not only greatly increase the size of its emergency room, but it will indirectly allow the hospital to do something it hasn’t done since 1982 – deliver babies.
The hospital recently announced an expansion that will allow it to turn its tiny, 1,400-square-foot emergency room into a 10,000-square-foot combination emergency room and outpatient services facility. In addition, the expansion will include the construction of about 7,000 square feet of office space, a portion of which will house four new physicians due to arrive soon, including two obstetrician/gynecologists who will deliver babies at the facility and two internal medicine and pediatric specialists.
“We have not done deliveries since 1982,” said Pam Roberts, administrator of the 114-bed facility. “We’ve wanted to bring the pediatrics piece of the puzzle back to the community for some time.”
Roberts said the hospital quit delivering babies when several doctors retired about the same time Baptist Memorial, a Memphis-based health care system, took over operations and built a large part of the existing facility in 1982.
This year’s expansion projects will allow the hospital to double its existing emergency room treatment rooms and build the office space to attract more physicians.
“I am proud of the quality of our medical staff,” Roberts said. “For a community of this size, it’s sometimes very difficult to recruit.”
Recruiting for two of the four new physicians due to arrive in October wasn’t too difficult. Baptist Memorial’s Health Care Foundation put up a grant of $150,000 to entice two of the physicians to locate in Booneville and personal roots did the rest.
Nathan Baldwin and Robert McKinney, both now completing their residencies in internal medicine and pediatrics, are Booneville natives and each was valedictorian of his class at Booneville High School.
The other two physicians due on board this fall are Laura Crecelius and Patrick Binge, both OB/GYNs.
Only a portion of the new physician office space will be completed in the current expansion, but it will be available should other doctors express interest.
“As local physicians want to move in, we’ll complete it for them,” Roberts said.
The new emergency room will feature six treatment rooms, two trauma bays and two examination rooms compared to only three treatment rooms and two trauma bays in the existing facility. The old emergency room will be renovated and used as a clinic that various specialists can use to see patients on a designated day each week.
The emergency room also will be moved from the rear of the building to the front of the hospital for better accessibility.
Roberts said the additions will allow the hospital to fulfill its mission.
“We don’t need to do open-heart surgery here,” she said. “We just need to provide primary, community health care.”