St. Francis Regional Medical Center will launch a $25 million project to expand its emergency room and cancer center starting this April in an attempt to keep up with the rapid population spike in Scott County, according to the hospital’s Director of Business Development Michael Morris.
The hospital’s current conditions do not have the capacity to service a community this size, Morris said, especially in the emergency room, where roughly 35,000 visits occur each year. Its current setup, with two ambulance bays and 20 emergency rooms, will be nearly doubled in size to accommodate growth for the next 10 years.
“At times we have two, three, four ambulances waiting outside to get into the garage,” Morris said, “or patients have to be wheeled into the front lobby.”
With the expansion, there will be four ambulance bays and 35 emergency rooms, including four to six rooms designated for mental health patients: an addition that's long overdue, those familiar with the project said.
“We’ve seen pretty dramatic growth in mental health patients we treat in the emergency room,” Morris said. “There haven’t been inpatient beds to accommodate, which means they get stacked up in ER rooms, including ours, and right now we only have two rooms.”
Morris added the mental health rooms need to include showers and nutrition centers so mental health patients are able to stay overnight. The current setup doesn't offer these options.
The oncology unit will be renovated to add four medical oncology rooms to its existing four. It will also add two chemotherapy chairs to the 12 that already exist, along with eight new exam rooms. The renovations will increase the oncology unit’s capacity, though no additional space will be added to the physical building, according to St. Francis Regional Medical Center President Amy Jerdee.
The total size of the emergency room is currently about 15,000 square feet, and it will likely double in size by 2022 after the expansion is complete. Morris said in addition to the expansion, the hospital will look to add updates to its trauma equipment. The expansion is expected to add approximately 20 to 25 jobs to Shakopee.
St. Francis will turn to public donations to fund the project. The capital campaign will be led by the Saints Foundation, which also supports St. Gertrude’s Health and Rehabilitation Center in Shakopee. Morris did not say how much the hospital is looking to raise through public donations or name other ways through which the expansion would be funded, other than through the St. Francis general fund.
The Star Tribune reported St. Francis will also add an $18.9 million surgery center in the coming years. When the Valley News asked Morris about the surgery center, he said the surgery center is still in its preliminary stages.
“The emergency room and oncology center is our top priority right now,” he said.
Morris did say the surgery center has been approved and is necessary because of shifting requirements many insurers are imposing, which limit a surgery patient’s insurance coverage to designated surgery centers instead of hospitals. He said St. Francis will build the surgery center “to ensure patients in our community don’t have to leave the community to get insurance coverage for the surgeries they need.”
Morris could not give more information on the size of the surgery center or when it will be built.
St. Francis is jointly owned by Allina Health, Park Nicollet Health Services and Essentia Health Critical Access Group.