Times of Northwest Indiana staff report

HOBART | St. Mary Medical Center broke ground Wednesday on a new $8 million emergency department expansion that will nearly double the existing emergency department's size to 15,334 square feet from 7,671 square feet, and to 24 treatment rooms from 14.

"In this environment where time is crucial, we've given every consideration to how we can continue to improve service to our patients and expedite their care in a safe, comfortable environment," Janice Ryba, CEO of St. Mary Medical Center, said.

"Our new emergency department will feature the most advanced technology, new comforts and privacy for patients and families and new design efficiencies that will enable us to more quickly and easily assess and treat patients."

Two separate entrances will be for ambulances and the public. Inside, the department layout will increase patient privacy and decrease wait times with new efficiency, which will include a new digital radiology room as well as MRI and CT services located close by for patients experiencing stroke or heart attacks.

Of the 10 treatment rooms, one will be a trauma room, two will be new triage rooms and seven will be new treatment rooms.

"Last year, we had more than 30,00 visits to our emergency department," John Mulligan, M.D., medical director of emergency services at St. Mary Medical Center said. "With completion of the expansion and renovation project, we'll increase our capacity to about 40,000 annual visits, enabling us to continue meeting the growing needs of the community."

In October 2008, the hospital unveiled a new $3.5 million, state-of-the-art cardiac catheterization laboratory.

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