Lawrence Memorial Hospital isn't about to stop building now.
The community hospital - already in the midst of a $44 million, 165,000-square-foot expansion project that includes construction of a new emergency room and surgery center, expanded Intensive Care Unit and maternity center, and other operations - now is looking to add a new three-story medical office building on campus.
The new $5.7 million project, approved Wednesday by the hospital's board of trustees, will make room for:
¢ Moving the hospital's information-technology department - now divided among three floors in the hospital - to the new building's first floor.
¢ Relocating Reed Medical Group, 404 Maine, into the new building's second floor.
¢ Accommodating space needs for physicians new to LMH and anticipated to be joining the hospital staff in future years, using the building's third floor.
The new building will be expected to be in place within nine months, positioning the hospital for increasing patient loads and service demands.
"We believe it's time," said Gene Meyer, the hospital's president and chief executive officer.
The project is contingent on the hospital receiving a signed 10-year lease from Reed Medical Group. In conjunction with the signed lease, the hospital would pay $1.2 million to acquire the existing Reed building, built in the late 1960s for four medical practices.
The building simply has become too small and outdated for the expanding group, whose seven physicians and two nurse practitioners served more than 7,600 patients last year, said Cindy Hasler, administrator for Reed Medical Group. An eighth physician, Walter Farrell, will join the group in September.
"This project should be a win-win for everyone," Hasler said.
The new office building is unrelated to the hospital's existing expansion project, for which the hospital continues its campaign to raise $8 million in donations.
Meyer reported Wednesday that the campaign had passed the $7 million mark, and that it would end June 22.
The hospital plans to finance construction of the new medical offices and purchase of the existing Reed building by using existing revenues and reserves. LMH turned a profit of $10.3 million last year, up 39 percent from the $7.4 million profit generated a year earlier.
Ted Hempy, the hospital's independent auditor, told board members Wednesday that the hospital had seen its net revenues from patient services increase by 9.4 percent last year - an $11.4 million boost that came largely from outpatient services, including cardiology, oncology and imaging.
In other action Wednesday, trustees also agreed to:
¢ Acquire two houses, at 314 Mich. and 322 Mich., that are adjacent to hospital property now used for a parking lot. The hospital will pay the full list prices - for a combined total of $235,000 - for the homes, enough to cover their appraised values. The acquisitions are part of the hospital's ongoing strategy of acquiring adjacent real estate when it becomes available on the open market, said Lindy Eakin, board chairman. The hospital has no immediate plans for the lots.