The Missoula Community Medical Center reached halfway through its $13.4 million renovation to its emergency department this week.
The project aims to expand and streamline access to emergency care at the medical center. It’s estimated to be finished next spring, chief operating officer Jim Gillhouse said. This week, Phase I of the project came to an end, unveiling the new entrance to the emergency department.
Patients began using the CMC entrance on Tuesday morning. The new area is spacious and includes an all-new check-in area as well as clinical rooms, Gillhouse said.
“We’re already seeing patients, so it’s working well,” Gillhouse said.
As of Tuesday afternoon, about 15 patients entered the new space via walk-ins, ambulances and LifeFlight, CMC chief marketing officer Megan Condra said.
The new entrance is on the same side as the current one, on the south side of the hospital avenue.
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Gillhouse said it was fantastic to get halfway through the draft. The team wanted a new space that looked modern, efficient and patient-friendly.
“This work took three years,” Gillhouse said, adding that the space has a beautiful modern design.
The design and construction teams thought about several details of the space.
The renovation will also include an area for patients awaiting medical test results, designed to improve patient flow and free up emergency room beds, Gillhouse said.
Once the project is complete, the emergency department will grow from 13 beds, some of which are shared, to 18 beds, all of which are private.
Emergency medical services crews will use a temporary entrance while construction continues. The second phase of the project includes the construction of two new trauma bays, Gillhouse added.
A new covered ambulance bay has yet to be completed – this is also part of Phase II.
Gillhouse pointed to western Montana’s growing population as one of the main reasons for the need for an expanded and renovated emergency department. This growth creates an increased demand for health services, especially among people over 65 years of age.
Resources and space will be allocated to specific patient populations like pediatricians, the elderly, pregnant women and people with mental health or addictions issues, according to a CMC press release.
The new space is also environmentally friendly. Construction crews will install a new groundwater cooling system, which will save on energy costs and reduce the net amount of energy used by the hospital during peak hours.