UVA Medical Center Plans to Double Size of its ER - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

UVA Medical Center Plans to Double Size of its ER

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The UVA Medical Center's current emergency department The UVA Medical Center's current emergency department

The University of Virginia Medical Center wants to double the size of its ER. The emergency department is the part of the hospital that has yet to see an addition or renovation.

The addition of the new patient care facility is expected to cost anywhere from $125 million to $150 million. The department is also considering adding new in-patient rooms.

Dr. Robert O'Connor is the chair of the University of Virginia Medical Center's emergency department. He says the new space would make for a more comfortable patient experience.

"The new emergency department will give us a lot more space to do things such as observation medicine, to have every patient in a private room, their families can stay with them,” O’Connor said.

The emergency department sees more patients than anywhere else in the hospital, around 60,000 every year.

"About half of all hospital admissions come through the emergency department. If you look at unscheduled admissions, it rises closer to about 75, 80 percent or so,” O’Connor said.

One of the main goals of this expansion is to offer individual rooms for each patient.

"When you're sick and in an emergency department, you want to focus on yourself and becoming healthy, and sharing a room with a patient isn't the most desirable thing,” said Bo Cofield, the medical center’s associate vice president for hospital and clinic operations.

The building addition would stand next to the current emergency room entrance on Lee Street. It would span 70,000 square feet, adding more than 60 rooms.

O'Connor says the benefit of better care for the patients is well worth the cost.

“If someone develops an unanticipated need to be seen and they wind up with a diagnosis that requires admission, they come through the emergency department, so we're really building this to better serve that patient population,” he said.

Hospital leaders will spend this year developing the proposal, and they are scheduled to bring it before the university’s board of visitors in November. They hope begin construction during the summer of 2015.

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