Expansion, remodeling of Lafayette’s University Hospital & Clinics could begin this summer _lowres

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- The emergency room ambulance entrance at University Hospital and Clinics will be moved as part of an expansion of the medical center to provide separate entrances for the public and ambulances.

The long-awaited expansion of the emergency room at the former University Medical Center could start sometime this summer.

Bids for the project at University Hospital & Clinics, more than tripling the size of its ER, are due April 16.

The ER has 10 beds separated by curtains within about 1,800 square feet. “With the remodel and expansion, we’ll go from 10 curtain bays to 20 private rooms,” said Daryl Cetnar, communications director for Lafayette General Health.

The project will add 4,000 square feet to the department, remodel the existing waiting area, and add another entrance to the ER.

“So now there will be two entrances: one for ambulances and another for a public entrance,” Cetnar said.

The project was initially approved years ago by the state, and funding was earmarked in subsequent capital outlay bills — prior to the private Lafayette General Health’s takeover of the public hospital’s management in June 2013.

The state committed to following through with its plans to pay for the remodel and expansion of the public hospital in its lease agreement with Lafayette General, Cetnar said.

“They’re paying for the remodel and expansion portion, and Lafayette General will pay for equipment and furnishings inside,” he said.

The project was first included in the state’s capital outlay budget in 2006 with about $2 million set aside. The 2014 capital outlay bill included $4.6 million for the project.

Additional funding for the project was needed because changes were made to the original concept for the renovation, according to information provided by Mark Moses, facility planning director. Securing that funding delayed the project, but now it’s back on track and construction is expected to begin this summer, facility planning officials said Tuesday.

The additional space will enhance patient care and privacy, he said.

“It’s sorely needed. They’re working in only 1,800 square feet to treat 40,000 patients in a year,” Cetnar said. “To have 20 private rooms is an incredible transformation from 10 curtain bays.”

Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.