Groundbreaking at Wilkes Regional


Contact: Tammy G. Love

Director of Marketing & Medical Staff Development

Phone: (336) 651-8116

Wilkes Journal-Patriot Staff


HOSPITAL GROUNDBREAKING - Taking part in the hospital groundbreaking ceremonies were, left to right, Linda Edmiston, emergency department nurse; C.W. Barker and Jean Graf, WRMC board members; Dr. William Hoekstra, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center; Arnold Lakey, WRMC board chair; Dr. Tom McMahan, WRMC staff; Jim Smoak, The Health Foundation chairman; Gene Faile, WRMC chief executive officer; and North Wilkesboro Mayor Robert Johnson, and Dane Mastin and Bill Warden, WRMC board members.

Wilkes Regional Medical Center (WRMC) officials broke ground at midday today on a $9,997,000 expansion of the emergency department (ED) and surgery department, and addition of a heart center.

Shelco Inc., of Winston-Salem was awarded the project contract last week, and construction is scheduled to begin in June.

Arnold Lakey, the chairman of the WRMC board, told those present, "many good things have happened here at the hospital, and progress is being made every day. We have a lot of new equipment, and new physicians are being added, making a good staff complete. Wilkes citizens and those in surrounding counties should keep their eyes on this hospital as we truly become a regional medical center."

WRMC Chief Executive Officer Gene Faile said that, when the hospital was opened on May 1, 1952, two people were seen on opening day in the emergency department. Ground was broken for the emergency department expansion, on the south side of the hospital, in 1987, "and it was built to see a large volume of patients…40 per day," Faile said."“Yesterday, 112 patients came through the emergency department. We are so pleased to be able to address the needs of the future."

The 9,500-square-foot ED expansion, which will more than double the size of the existing ED, and will increase the number of exam rooms from 19 to 29. The construction will extend the building 88 feet into the current ED parking area. The new ED will have a total area of 17,140 square feet.

One of those taking part in the ground breaking was Linda Edmiston, who started as an ED nurse at the hospital Oct. 1, 1962. She retired in 2005 but continues to work as a part-time nurse in the emergency department.

As a part of the surgery renovation, the size of two of the operating suites will be increased by 30 percent to allow for new equipment and technology. Also, other work in the surgery department will significantly improve patient flow to provide for continued growth in surgery cases, according to hospital officials.

The 2,200-square-foot heart center will be a part of the ED addition. It will be located in space added to the original expansion plans for the ED. Work on that part of the project should be completed within a year. The other two projects should be finished within two years.

The expansion of the ED will take 10 spaces in the department's parking area. Because of that loss, coupled with increased demand, the hospital needs to add 35-40 parking spaces. A new parking area will probably be constructed on the west side (adjacent to the main hospital entrance) of the hill side in front of the hospital, though the final decision on the location will be made by the hospital's construction committee.

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