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CoxHealth Breaks Ground for New ER

Cox Patients will have a new emergency room to go to when they need it by August of 2010. KSMU’s Michele Skalicky has more…

Ground was broken today (5/4/09) for a new 78,000 square-foot emergency room at Cox South. The new ER will more than double the beds of the current facility and will be 3 times larger.Dr. Howard Jarvis, medical director for emergency staff at Cox says the new facility should greatly reduce the wait time for patients…

"Our waiting rooms will be comfortable and appealing, but we expect them to be used, primarily, by additional family and friends. We expect our patients directly back to the room the vast majority of the time so they will not have to wait when they need to be seen."

According to Jarvis, each patient room will contain full heart monitoring equipment, which he says is a rarity in ER’s.The new ER will contain 62 private rooms, a 63-bed observation unit, radiology, lab, pharmacy services and more.Cox President and CEO Bob Bezanson says the new facility will employ 300 professionals. They expect to treat around 72,000 patients in the first year.Rozlyn McTeer is an RN in the Cox ER…

"We have been waiting for this emergency room since I came on five years ago. We have seen our population, our census, go up, so this is exciting. We're very very excited about this finally happening."

Bezanson says they’re not building for the immediate future—they’ll building for ten years from now. He says currently, the ER is “way over capacity.” He explains why they decided to move forward with such a big project despite the current state of the economy…

"It's our future, I mean, that's what we're concerned about is being there, because, you know, we're a tax exempt organization. We do not turn anyone away. If someone presents at our emergency department, we're going to take care of them, and it's important to grow. It's important to be financially stable to be able to offer these services."

He says taking on such a big project during these tough economic times will benefit the community…

"I guess it's our version of stimulus because, of the 35 subcontracters that are involved in this project, over 80% of them are local, and that is a very big deal and very very important to our community."

The new ER will cost 52 and a half million dollars and will be financed by a September 2008 bond issuance. A major donation of an undisclosed amount for the project by Jack and Cathryn Cox Lipscomb and Larry and Tracy Lipscomb was announced today.The new Cox emergency room is expected to be completed by August of next year. For KSMU News, I’m Michele Skalicky.