Baptist Memorial Hospital-DeSoto in Southaven is about to embark on an $19 million expansion project that will add additional space to the facility’s emergency room.

“The staff, our physicians are all very excited,” said James Huffman, Baptist-DeSoto Administrator/CEO. “It’s very much needed and it’s always exciting when we’re able to grow to meet the community’s needs and be able to better take advantage of the new technologies that we’ve investing over the years.”

Groundbreaking for the project will be held on Monday, March 27 at 10:30 a.m. at the hospital, 7601 Southcrest Parkway. The facility should be completed about 18 months later with a move-in date of Oct. 1, 2018.

“We’re going to expand the existing emergency room,” Huffman said. “We essentially are going to expand by about 20,000 new square feet and we’re going to renovate about 9,000 square feet of the existing department. The total new square footage will be a little over 42,000 square feet.”

Huffman said the area will increase from 35 to 55 treatment areas for emergencies. A new CT scanning room will be included in the middle of the department for more accessibility.

“With mobile technology, we’ll be able to take advantage of registering patients at their bedside in the treatment rooms,” Huffman said. “A lot more of the laboratory testing is point of care, which means drawing the specimen and doing the test right there at the bedside.”

The current emergency room area at Baptist-DeSoto was designed about 12 years ago and completed about nine years ago, Huffman said. But, even then, the hospital knew as DeSoto County grew in population, an expansion of the facility would be needed.

“During that design period, we were seeing about 30,000 patient visits a year,” Huffman said. “In the last couple of years, as the growth of DeSoto County has far exceeded anybody’s expectations, we’re now up to over 60,000 ER visits a year. Our physical capacity just isn’t there to see that volume.”

When it is done, the new ER facility will rank among the best in the Mid-South.

“We will be as big as any facility as far as number of treatment rooms,” Huffman said. “We’re already meeting the same volume of patients as they’re seeing at Baptist-Memphis and the other facilities in the area.”

As the space grows, Baptist-DeSoto will also need more staffers to handle the need.

“We staff based on volume, we have a ratio of patients to the staff that we use,” Huffman said. “So, we’ve been constantly adding staff as our volumes have grown over the years. We’ll incrementally add staff to insure we maintain that ratio of staff to patients.”

Huffman noted plans are in place to provide as little disruption to current hospital operations as possible during the construction period, saying the work will be done in five phases over the 18 months of construction.

“We’ve been able to design this to have minimal impact,” Huffman noted. “We don’t want patients confused about where to come when they need care or where ambulances should arrive when they’re delivering patients. I think we’ve come up with a fairly creative design to be able to not only end up with a good product, but to minimize disruption during the construction period.”

Bob Bakken is Staff Writer and may be reached at 662-429-6397 ext. 240.

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