St. Dominic’s employees, physicians, community leaders, donors and friends gathered this week for a construction celebration event in honor of the emergency department expansion and renovation project for the hospital.

Instead of a traditional groundbreaking where dirt is turned, the construction project launch was symbolized by representatives turning on emergency lights, a metaphor for beginnings and the road to healing.

Lester K. Diamond, President of St. Dominic Hospital, said there is a great need for a larger and more efficient emergency department.

“In 2010, just over 45,000 patients were treated in our emergency room,” he said. “More recently, those numbers have been closer to 60,000 and keep going up. When it was originally constructed about 50 years ago, our current Emergency Department was not designed to handle anywhere near the amount of volume we see today.”

Building adjacent to the current ER department, beginning steps included the removal of the original chapel and old office buildings. In addition, the elevator for the parking garage was relocated to accommodate a new lane dedicated to emergency traffic only.

Next, a massive hole was excavated to accommodate a sub-basement for the piping and infrastructure of the expansion. During the excavation, about 100 dump truck loads of dirt were removed each day. Currently, the structural pilings that will support the foundation are being installed.

There are two main phases to the construction project, which is currently about ten percent complete.

The first phase is to add an expansion of approximately 25,000 square feet on to the existing emergency department. This new addition will contain 20 patient rooms, two trauma rooms, an exam room (for more minor issues), five behavioral health rooms, a more efficient pod-style layout, localized waiting areas and in-unit imaging services that are critical to rapid response emergency care.

The initial phase will also include external improvements such as separate entrances for the public and for ambulances, additional parking and an emergency specific traffic lane. This portion is projected to be completed near the middle of 2020.

At that time, all emergency department operations will transfer to the new space and the second phase will begin.

In the second phase, the existing emergency department, which consists of just over 11,000 square feet, will be completely renovated to match the flow and design of the just-completed new space. Upon completion (expected in spring or early summer of 2021), this renovated space will add 16 more patient rooms, an additional exam room and will have the same workflow enhancements that will be present in the expansion.

Kay McRee, Executive Director for the St. Dominic Health Services Foundation, announced that donors have contributed $7.5 million so far toward the project. The Foundation hopes to raise an additional $2.5 million for a total of $10 million, or about a quarter of the cost of the project.

Those interested in contributing to the project can visit and select “Emergency Department Campaign” in the Donation Targets dropdown or call the Foundation at 601-200-6910.

Special thanks to St. Dominic’s for contributing to this report.