Frankfort Regional to build bigger, better ER

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By Meaghan Downs

Anderson County patients at Frankfort Regional Medical Center will experience some changes to the center’s emergency department, courtesy of a three-phase $8.4 million expansion and renovation project.
Frankfort Regional Medical Center held a groundbreaking ceremony for the project Jan. 3, inviting doctors, nurses and other members of the staff to don a hard hat and take a sledgehammer to a wall of the old emergency facility.
Construction for the expansion is set to begin by next week.   
The new emergency department, scheduled for completion by May 2013, covers 19,500 square feet and features an additional 10 private rooms and a new 64-slice CT scanner, a non-invasive imaging system that scans images of whole organs in seconds.
Chief Operation Officer Lee Higginbotham said the 15-month project will be completed in three phrases in order to best transfer current services for patients, such as the triage and waiting areas.
“It’s not your typical renovation,” said Brad Wands, director of business development.
 “We still need to see patients.”
Dr. Gina Wilkins, director of the emergency department, said the volume of patients at the center has grown in the past couple of years, and that the expanded emergency area will provide more space to see more people, including Anderson County patients.
“We can see patients more quickly, more efficiently so that they don’t have to wait as long.”
And if there is a wait, all patients have to do is check a waiting room monitor, or their own cell phones.  
According to a press release from the center, the expanded emergency department will also feature a waiting room monitor that will display patients’ expected wait times. The waiting period is tracked using a statistical system that uploads data to a RSS feed, which updates both the monitor and the hospital’s website at www.frankfortregional.com.
Patients can also track waiting times via text message by texting “ER” to 23000 to get a reply, after entering their zip code, with the most recent wait time.