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MU hospital breaks ground on emergency-room expansion

University Hospital is starting an estimated 18-month expansion project for its emergency room.

The project is budgeted to cost $16 million and will more than double the number of beds the ER currently has from, 22 to 54. The project will add 6,335 square feet to the emergency department and another 20,972 square feet of existing space will be renovated.

The construction is expected to be completed by the end of 2018. It will add 17 exam rooms ,bringing the total to 38, 10 new fast-track exam rooms and one additional triage area, making two total triage areas.

“In 2016, University Hospital’s emergency department provided care for more than 49,000 patients, up from 37,000 in 2011,” said Jonathan Curtright, interim chief executive officer of MU Health Care. “That’s a 30 percent increase in emergency department patient volumes in five years. We are on track to provide emergency care to more than 52,000 patients in 2017.”

All emergency department operations will remain open and functioning 24 hours a day during the renovations. The current Psychiatric Center entrance will serve as the ER entrance during the construction. Patient parking will also be moved to the Tiger Avenue parking garage directly across from the Psychiatric Center’s entrance.

Hospital staff said the improvements will allow physicians to see and care for patients more quickly.

From April 2016 to April 2017, emergency room wait times shortened from 18 minutes to 11 minutes, according to MU Health officials.

“One innovative feature of this project is fast-track exam rooms that will help us continue to shorten wait times,” said Dr. Matthew Robinson, interim chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the MU School of Medicine. “We’ll use our new fast-track rooms to quickly treat patients with less critical injuries, such as those needing stitches or a broken bone set. This group of our patients will be able to see a doctor even faster because our fast-track exam rooms will be dedicated to their care.”

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