An impressive $6 million construction project is under way for the Cherokee Regional Medical Center that will boost the hospital into the future as a comprehensive state-of-the-art medical health care facility.
Two vital hospital departments are the focus of this latest project - radiology, and rehabilitative medicine (physical therapy).
The radiology department will be completely renovated and space added to the current area. With that expansion will be the addition of significant new equipment, including an in-house MRI. Presently, the CRMC MRI service is 3 1/2 days per week from a mobile truck. With its own MRI equipment, the CRMC can offer service seven days a week, 24 hours per day. The existing CAT scanner will also be replaced with a state-of-the-art 16-slice CAT scanner.
The improved radiology area will offer patients more privacy for changing areas and women's screenings. All services offered by the department will be enhanced, including general diagnostic radiology, mammography, nuclear radiology, interventional radiology, CT, MRI, and ultrasound.
The physical therapy department will double in size to offer more privacy for the patient, private procedure rooms, and to assist the CRMC therapists in attending to their patients in a timely fashion. A new therapy pool with a submerged treadmill also will be included.
Much of the expansion project will occur on the ground floor on the north and east sides of the existing main hospital building, and on second floor. Included in that will be expansion of the oncology suite that will render private and semi-private areas. The main hospital entrance will be moved south to accommodate the project, including a new lobby and a new chapel.
"We will construct a new chapel in the new lobby for patients, patients' families, visitors, and staff," said CRMC CEO John Comstock. "Spiritual healing is a huge part of the physical healing and we will be able to offer a distinct area for reflection and prayer."
There also will be some improvements made in the ER area for more patient privacy and added state-of-the-art equipment. A conference/education room also will be constructed in between the hospital and True Medical Clinic.
The first floor project includes an estimated 11,900 square feet to be remodeled and 13,115 square feet new construction. The second floor project includes 2,190 square feet remodeled, and 1,782 square feet new construction. (The floor plans accompany this story).
The project has been two years in the planning and the $6 million estimate covers just the "hard" (construction) costs. Any new equipment, fixtures, furniture, landscaping, etc. will be beyond that figure. Haselhoff Construction of Cherokee is general contractor. The project will take two years to complete.
The expansion project also will mean an increase in staff, according to Comstock, who said that the outstanding success of the CRMC to date has made the project possible.
"The revenue in all departments is up and continues to grow," said a pleased Comstock. "More patients are using our facility as we transition into the future with a trained, expert medical staff, state-of-the-art equipment, and improved accessibility. This project is volume-driven and that is a credit to the quality of our employees and the quality of our hospital.
"This (project) perfectly fits into our plans to be the choice primary care giver in the region. The expansion and new equipment also enables us to attract and retain quality staff with state-of-the-art equipment and facilities."
Comstock is now in his 11th year as the CRMC CEO. He and the Board of Directors have guided the Cherokee hospital through several major construction projects in that time, with the latest project considered the "capper," placing the CRMC in the forefront as a regional health care facility.
In addition to hospital expansion, renovation, and continuing addition of high-tech equipment, Comstock also guided the CRMC's Wellness Center and The Beck assisted living complex to fruition.