The Health Care Authority of Cullman County/ Cullman Regional Board of Directors announced Thursday evening that it has officially filed an Alabama Certificate of Need application for a proposed $30 million expansion project.
At a June 27 press conference to announce the expansion, Cullman Regional CEO James Clements said the expansion will increase the capacity of the Critical Care Unit by 50 percent, increase the capacity of the Emergency Department by 50 percent and add more private rooms to reduce the usage of semi-private rooms throughout the facility.
The project will also include the development of an outpatient behavioral health program and the addition of an 8-bed behavioral health unit in the Emergency Department that officials hope will help some patients coming into the ER looking for treatment, Clements said.
“We are seeing over 1,000 behavioral health patients a year in our emergency room. Those are people who are struggling to find ways to access care,” he said.
The hospital will also receive an infrastructure upgrade to accommodate the additional capacity. That upgrade will include the expansion of the onsite power plant by approximately 1,100 square feet, the replacement of the cooling towers, the addition of two new chillers, the addition of new elevator controls and the modification of the remaining two service elevators to allow them to access all levels of the hospital.
In an effort to care for more critically-ill patients and expand the ICU, Cullman Regional began reducing the use of semi-private rooms in 2018 and only utilizes them during high-census periods when more patients are admitted.
“Cullman Regional continues to see a growing number of patients through the Emergency Department,” said Board Chair Beth Anderson in the press release. “Many of these patients are sicker and require a higher-level of care which is provided best in our critical care unit (ICU). Therefore, we need a solution that allows more critically-ill patients access to critical care beds more quickly.”
If approved, construction will begin in the third quarter of 2020. Phase 1 of construction will include the expansion of the Emergency Department; phase 2 will include infrastructure improvements and Phase 3 will be the addition of the critical care beds which will be a ground floor to fourth floor expansion of the west units of the current facility.