Construction crews will begin tearing down a portion of Lawrence Memorial Hospital early next month, the first step in a $35 million renovation at LMH.
Gene Meyer, president and chief executive officer of the hospital, told LMH board members Wednesday that the hospital was awaiting final approval of a city permit that would allow demolition of the 1969 wing of the hospital.
The wing - on the eastern end of the hospital and which previously housed the pediatrics department, human resources, records storage and other offices - will be torn down to make room for a new emergency room and parking.
Meyer said the number of emergency patients had nearly doubled in recent years, to about 29,000 patients annually.
"From a size standpoint and from a privacy standpoint, we need to really increase the size of the emergency department," Meyer said.
The project also should increase the visibility of the emergency room, which is on the north side of the building away from most approaching traffic. The move will put the department closer to the intersection of Fifth and Maine streets.
Specific plans for the new emergency room haven't been created. Meyer said the hospital currently was searching for an architect, and he hoped to begin construction next spring.
Other details of the $35 million expansion, which hospital leaders confirmed late last year, include converting all of the hospital's semi-private rooms into fully private rooms, expanding the obstetrics department and adding new surgery suites.
Hospital leaders will provide an overview of the expansion plans at a community chili feed and ice cream social from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Oct. 2 at the hospital, 325 Maine.