BEDFORD — A $4 million expansion project that will increase the size of the Bedford Memorial Hospital emergency department by more than 30 percent will begin in June.

But before work gets underway, the hospital will open a temporary emergency department on the second floor starting May 18.

Bedford Memorial Hospital CEO Patti Jurkus said the newly renovated and expanded emergency department is planned to open in March 2018.

Jurkus and Stacey Hopkins, nursing director for the emergency department, held an information session Wednesday night at the Central Virginia Community College Bedford campus to inform the public of the upcoming change.

 “We are very excited about the opportunity to expand the emergency department,” Jurkus said. “We want the community to have easy access to the emergency department during this renovation.”

While renovations are taking place, the emergency department will move to the second floor and use the entrance from the administrative parking lot located on Whitfield Drive.

The current emergency room is located on the opposite side of the hospital, past the entrance on Oakwood Street.

There will be a barrier constructed in the current parking lot on Whitfield Drive that will separate the EMS drop-off and walk-in patients.

The current main entrance of the hospital, meanwhile, will be used for outpatient visits only.

James Rose, director of facility services, said the new department will expand by 1,800 square feet, to about 7,500 square feet in size.

Hopkins said there has been an 11 percent increase in the number of emergency room patients during the past two years.

Expanding the emergency department marks Centra’s latest investment in the hospital. Centra and Carilion Clinic had run the hospital as part of a 50-50 partnership since 2001. Centra paid Carilion about $12 million and assumed ownership July 1, 2014.

That same year, officials said Centra would expand and update the hospital’s emergency room, and Centra publicly committed to making an estimated $11 million to $12 million in capital investments in the hospital during the next five years, including infrastructural upgrades, advanced medical equipment and improvements to Oakwood Manor, the 111-bed health and rehabilitation center attached to the hospital. In May 2016, Centra announced it would reopen Bedford Hospice House.

Planning for the temporary emergency department has been ongoing, and Jurkus said she is thankful for the help of “multiple community members” who have offered support. The hospital has met with the sheriff, town police, neighbors, mental health workers and EMS officials to create the plan for the temporary department.

Additional staff of three nurses and 10 to 12 certified nurses’ assistants will be hired as well as a new switchboard operation of three full-time and two to four part-time workers that will be staffed 24/7, Hopkins said.

“We love our hospital, love our community and want to provide best service possible,” Jurkus said. “We want the community to be informed, and we want to continue to provide our services.”

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Contact Rachael Smith at (434) 385-5482 or rsmith@newsadvance.com.

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Born and raised in Lynchburg, I cover local businesses and nonprofits. Email me at: rsmith@newsadvance.com

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