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Mercy Fort Smith Announces $162M Expansion of ER, ICU

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Mercy Hospital Fort Smith on Wednesday announced plans for a $162 million expansion of its emergency room and intensive care unit.

Mercy said this expansion will allow it to handle about 25,000 more patient visits per year and include special considerations for infectious disease as well as behavioral health patients.

The project will add 21 rooms to the ER, increasing that number to 50, and 26 beds to the ICU, for a total of 64.

The expansion will also include:

  • A secured five-room area for behavioral health patients;
  • A 22-bed observation unit requiring no renovation in the former ICU space; 
  • A helipad relocation to improve the patient transport process; 
  • A new gift shop and meeting room space; and 
  • 140 parking spaces.

The hospital plans to break ground early next year; it expects construction to take a little more than two years.

This expansion comes weeks after Mercy completed its $28.5 million, 50-bed rehabilitation hospital. Mercy will also welcome its first internal medicine and family medicine residents on Thursday.

The ER and ICU expansion “will increase our ability to care for more patients and will actually improve the care we provide,” Dr. Paul Bean, chief of medical affairs, said in a news release. “It will allow us to expand the services that we provide, which will allow patients to stay in Fort Smith for the care they need.” 

Hospital President Ryan Gehrig said the investment will allow the hospital “to better meet the needs of our community in a world-class environment. We have a very dedicated team of professionals, and this will enable them to deliver this experience our patients expect and deserve.” 

The ICU expansion will more than double the number of rooms capable of supporting ventilators. The building automation system is also designed to allow for floors or pods to be turned into isolation areas as needed. 

A new garage and lower-level emergency department entry will be set up to handle mass casualty events and facilitate a quick pandemic response, the hospital said. The ER and main entry proximity will also provide separation of non-pandemic from pandemic-related patients, without interruption to normal operations.

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