Southern Ocean Medical Center is preparing to break ground on a $20 million emergency room expansion.
Joseph Hummel, vice president and chief strategy officer for the hospital, will address the South Ocean Chamber of Commerce this week on the project, which will more than triple the facility’s size. The event will be held Tuesday at the Ocean Acres Country Club.
The medical center’s current emergency room is 8,500 square feet, and after the expansion will be 29,500 square feet. Spaces for patients will increase from 22 to 42.
The center expects to break ground on the project in October, and complete the first phase by September 2012. Completion is expected by June 2013.
Everything in the new emergency room will be new, medical center President Joseph Coyle has said.
Stafford Township officials have expressed some concerns about whether the project includes an increase in parking. Originally, the plan called for a parking garage, but that was dropped to cut costs.
Coyle has said the larger emergency room will improve patient privacy, shifting from the curtains currently separating patients to walls.
The need for more emergency behavioral health services at the hospital will also be addressed by the expansion. The second phase of the project will include four new behavioral health rooms.
The growth in Ocean County’s population has increased the need for more emergency services capacity.
In the past decade, the county population has increased 12 percent to 573,000, U.S. Census data shows.
In the summer, the demand for hospital services rises dramatically as Long Beach Island fills with visitors and vacationers.
Coyle said 52 percent of emergency room patients in summer are seasonal residents. On one day alone in early July the emergency room handled 161 patients.