Hospital eyes emergency room expansion

Additional parking planned behind Biscone Medical Building
By Ben Holbrook | Aug 12, 2017

Belfast — Representatives from Waldo County General Hospital unveiled plans Aug. 9 to expand the emergency department and add new parking behind the Biscone Medical Building.

The 4,500-square-foot expansion will allow an increase in the number of available beds, to 15 from the current 10, and provide designated treatment rooms, Craig Piper, of SMRT Architects, said. Currently, the beds are screened with privacy curtains.

Of the 15 rooms that will be created, two are designated for trauma patients, two for behavioral health patients, one will serve as an isolation room and another for gynecology exams, Piper said.

Another elevator also will be installed to move patients from the ER to other areas of the hospital. Piper said the new elevator will provide more privacy for patients because they won’t have to use the public elevators closer to the main entrance of the hospital.

The expansion will eliminate 24 parking spaces in front of the hospital, and an existing two-way entrance and exit from Fahy Street will be changed to a one-way entrance, Piper said.

Representatives said the hospital is undertaking the expansion to bring the emergency department into line with current hospital standards and provide better care for the existing patient population; the project is not driven by any expected increase in the number of patients.

In conjunction with the expansion, the hospital seeks to add 70 parking spaces behind Biscone Medical Building. The spaces will be used primarily for employee parking but will also be available to the public.

Before any work can begin, the hospital must obtain permits from Department of Environmental Protection and Army Corps of Engineers. Piper said it typically takes about three months to obtain those permits and hospital officials are hopeful work will begin by November. However, any delays in receiving permits or inclement weather could push back the construction start date.

In that event, the expansion and parking lot work probably would not begin until the spring.

No comments for or against the project were offered during a brief public hearing. City Planner Wayne Marshall noted the city did not receive any comments about the proposed work before Wednesday’s review.

Planning Board members were largely in favor of the plans presented, but some members did request additional information detailing pedestrian traffic flow.

The board accepted the preliminary plan as complete and hospital officials said they anticipate presenting a finalized plan in September.


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