Hospital Construction Begins
Contact: Tammy G. Love
Director of Marketing & Medical Staff Development
Phone: (336) 651-8116
By CHARLES S. WILLIAMS
Wilkes Journal-Patriot Staff
The $14,865,000 construction project at Wilkes Regional Medical Center is beginning this week. The emergency department (ED), and two of the operating suites are being expanded, and a 2,200 square foot heart center is being constructed adjacent to the emergency department.
The 9,500 square foot ED expansion, which will more than double the size of the existing ED (to 17,140 square feet), will increase the number of exam rooms from 19 to 29.
The size of the operating suites will be increased by 30 percent. Also, other work in the surgical department will significantly improve patient flow to provide for continued growth in surgery cases, according to hospital officials.
The project will include the installation of two new 750 kilowatt emergency generators at a total cost of $1.8 million. The two 500 kilowatt generators now on site are not large enough to provide power for the entire hospital. The older generators will be rewired to provide emergency power for the chiller and cooling towers so that the air conditioning and air handling systems will remain in operation in power outages.
The construction will extend the building 88 feet into the current ED parking area. A 2,200 square foot space in the new area will be used for the new heart center. Dr. Julian Thomas and Dr. William Scarpa,Jr., cardiologists, are already on staff at Wilkes Regional.
The expansion of the emergency department into the parking area will take 10 spaces. Because of that loss, plus the need for additional parking, hospital officials plan to construct a new parking area for 35-40 vehicles. Though a final decision has not yet been made, the lot will probably be located on the west side of the hillside in front of the hospital (adjacent to the main hospital entrance).
ED parking area to close
This week, crews are removing the guardrail in the ED parking lot and starting construction of a temporary patient-family entrance to the ED. Crews will take out a portion of the south wall of the ED (facing West D Street, between the ambulance entrance and the parking area) and build a 150 foot covered walkway from the entrance into the parking area (to protect people entering the building from the elements).
Beginning today, parking is prohibited in the lot as crews construct a fence around the construction area and move in the contractor's trailer and a part of the construction equipment. Next week, the demolition of the existing ED entrance will begin; trees in the area will be cut and removed; asphalt will be removed, and the foundation for the new construction will be laid.
Family members bringing patients to the emergency room, after this week, may drive into the parking lot to a drop off zone at the entrance of the walkway. They will then be directed to park in the lower parking lot on the west side of the hospital entrance drive (adjacent to Boone Trail). The hospital will provide shuttle service (a van driven by a WRMC security guard) back of the ED drop off zone. "This change will not affect ambulance traffic at the hospital;" explained Gene Faile, the hospital's chief executive officer. "The emergency drive and entrance will still be open during all of the construction."
Faile added that the construction project will result in the creation of more jobs in Wilkes. "We have already added four security guards to our staff," he said. "Also, I'm sure that the general contractors (Shelco Construction) will be hiring day laborers to help with part of the work, especially during the demolition portion of the project. "Dixie Grading of Wilkesboro will be doing the site preparation work, and Duncan Electric of North Wilkesboro will be doing all of the electrical work."