Commissioners approve plan in concept
County commissioners took a step Monday, March 21 toward approving an expansion for Carolinas Medical Center-Union. After a presentation from CMC-Union president Michael Lutes, commissioners approved the project in concept, by a 4-0 vote. Commissioner Kim Rogers was absent. The Monroe hospital announced March 3 it received conditional approval from the state’s Division of Health Service Regulation to build a new three story patient tower and add 25 acute care beds, as well as design a women’s center and new helipad.
“(The expansion) will help us address our capacity issues,” Lutes told commissioners. In 2010, Lutes said, visits to the hospital’s emergency room grew by 8 percent. This year so far, visits are up 15 percent. “We have to (find) some place to put those patients,” Lutes said.
The project will total 109,700 square feet, serving as home to a new Women’s Center. Each patient suite in the new facility will have a TV, wireless access, a private bath and a family area. Additionally, the state approved 25 new medical/surgical beds. When the project is completed, CMC-Union’s capacity will grow from its current total of 157 beds to 182. A new main entrance, expanded lobby and helipad will be included in the project as well.
The helipad’s current location, roughly about 200 yards from the emergency room entrance, creates problems at times, Lutes said, explaining hospital officials have to use an ambulance to transport patients to and from. That takes the ambulance out of service for at least a brief period.
The total project is estimated at $57.2 million, with $35.6 million of that coming in construction costs. In order to pay for the project, CMC-Union expects to go out for $40 million in bond funding, with the remaining $17.2 million being paid from the hospital’s reserves.
Lutes told commissioners the project had 167 letters of support, 135 from CMC Union medical staff members, 25 from local residents and 7 from elected officials. Commissioners approved the project in concept, meaning they approve of the idea, but need to see details. Lutes will return to present the official financial proposal at a later meeting.