By Errol Castens
NEW ALBANY – Baptist Memorial Hospital-Union County will open a new emergency department facility that will triple its current capacity and offer updated treatment options.
Administrators, medical professionals, local officials and area residents gathered Friday to break ground on the addition, which will provide 22 exam rooms compared to the seven in the current emergency department.
Memphis-based Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation has operated the hospital since 1989 under long-term lease from the Union County Board of Supervisors, which built the original portion of the facility in 1966 and retains ownership of the entire facility.
“Since 1989, BMHCC has invested over $47 million in this campus in New Albany,” said Walter Grace, the hospital’s administrator. “Today we add to that fund by kicking off a project that will total over $12 million.”
Flintco Construction, a Tulsa-based company with branches from Albuquerque to Memphis, is general contractor on the project. The 22,000-square-foot addition will replace the education building and physician office building behind the hospital and will connect to the radiology department. It is scheduled for completion in August 2014.
Baptist system CEO Stephen Reynolds said the new construction reflects the vision of his predecessor, Joe Powell. Rather than using community hospitals as funnels to big-city medical centers, he said, “Joe’s philosophy was, ‘Let’s go into these communities and make health care better.’”
Dr. Robert Pitcock, medical director of BMH-UC’s emergency department, said the expansion will only improve on what he said is the highest patient-satisfaction rating among Baptist’s 14 hospitals.
“My emergency department staff has provided exceptional care with limited space,” he said. “We look forward to improving upon that with state-of-the-art equipment and additional space that better serves all of our patients that entrust us with their care.”
New Albany Mayor Tim Kent said the hospital’s growth feeds the city’s growth, and vice versa.
“It means a lot to our community, not only to health care, but to the recruitment of industry and even residential growth,” he said. “When people come to a community, the first questions they ask are about health care, school systems and activities for their children. We don’t have to back up from anybody on health care.”