BY MICHAELA GIBSON MORRIS
Trips to the emergency room in Pontotoc will take a slightly different route for the next nine months.
North Mississippi Medical Center-Pontotoc has closed the main entrance to the emergency services department to make room for the construction of a new 7,000 square-foot facility.
The emergency department will remain fully open, but patients and visitors will enter through the south entrance and follow signs through the hospital, said Fred Hood, NMMC-Pontotoc administrator.
“With progress comes a certain degree of temporary confusion and inconvenience,” Hood said. “We will continue to operate (in the existing emergency department) until the move” into the new space in early 2004.
The new facility being built adjacent to the existing emergency department will give the hospital the space needed to accommodate the high demand for emergency medicine.
If the current pace continues through the end of September, the department will break its own record and see more than 10,000 patients in 12 months, Hood said.
The emergency room now includes the original 3-room emergency department and the old ICU. The rooms were designed in the 1960s and 1970s and do not easily accommodate the medical advances available in 2003
“It's a logistical nightmare,” Hood said of the existing emergency department layout.
Maneuvering around the parking lot will also be a challenge during the construction, Hood said. Traffic will flow one way from the hospital's south entrance.
“It will be a very tight squeeze to get out of the parking lot,” Hood said.
The stork and everyone else visiting the NMMC Women's Hospital in Tupelo will also be rerouted for construction.
The admissions entrance will close at 5 a.m. today as preliminary work begins on the expansion of the hospital's labor and delivery area. Patients and visitors will use the visitors entrance.
“Everyone will go through those doors,” said Ellen Friloux, Women's Hospital administrator.
Staff will be stationed in the visitors lobby to help direct people through the hospital and provide emergency assistance.
The labor and delivery and admissions areas will remain in the same place as the new labor and deliver rooms are built adjacent to the existing birthing rooms. The 12 new, larger rooms are slated to be complete in 10 to 12 months.
“It will give us more flexibility,” Friloux said. “In the past two to three years, we've been really tight.”
“There will be some noise in the labor and delivery department and the waiting area,” Friloux said. “If it becomes disruptive, the (contractors) have always been good about stopping.”
After new rooms are completed, the six existing birthing rooms and observation area will be renovated. The next phase of renovation will expand the nursery and neonatal intensive care. The last phase of renovation will expand and reconfigure the surgery areas. In all, the construction will expand the hospital on three sides and continue for about three years.