STAFFORD TOWNSHIP — The second phase of an emergency room expansion at Southern Ocean Medical Center is expected to be completed next month, tripling the size of the facility to meet increasing demand.

Hospital spokeswoman Donna Sellmann said last week that a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the opening of the emergency room will be held late next month.

The project broke ground in October 2011 and is estimated to cost about $22 million once it is complete. In January, the first phase of the facility’s new emergency department in the Manahawkin section of Stafford Township was unveiled.

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The finishing touches are now being put on Phase II of the emergency department. Once the project is complete, the department will about triple in size from 8,800 square feet to 29,000 square feet.

The expansion that has taken almost two years to complete is the largest project in the hospital’s history, President Joseph P. Coyle said.

The expansion includes upgrades to offer private space for behavioral health patients, a pediatric care center, 42 private bays and expanded triage areas.

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More than 30 years’ experience reporting and editing for newspapers and magazines in Illinois, Colorado, Texas and New Jersey and 1985 winner of the Texas Daily Newspaper Association’s John Murphy Award for copy editing.

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