HAZARD—A more than $47 million expansion project to the Hazard ARH Hospital will begin opening its doors this week.
Construction began on the 100,000 square foot Joe Craft Tower, named after Perry County native Joe Craft, in 2012. The three-story building will house 34 private rooms on its third floor, 16 cardiac critical care bed on the second floor, and a new 24-bed ER on the first floor.
Judy Craft, chief nursing officer at the Hazard ARH, said the new ER, which opens Wednesday, doubles the capacity of the previous ER. She added that the expansion is something that the regional community has deserved for a long time.
“It’s a major gift for our community. It’s ARH giving back,” she said. “This is an opportunity to give everyone the level of care everyone deserves.”
ER Director Dr. Bart Francis said the new facility not only gives the hospital and its staff more room, but more state-of-the-art equipment and technology to better serve patients.
New Wi-Fi capabilities in the tower allow for all departments to be connected at all times, Francis explained. This means that instead of having to wait for a certain test to scan, print, and develop before it’s even sent to the department that needs it, the test can be sent electronically to the department, so wait times can be cut in half in some instances.
Craft explained that these new capabilities allow for more improvement in the overall health care of the community.
“We’re laying the foundation for us to improve the health care within the next year, year and a half at the most,” Craft said, adding that the hospital will now be able to seek its Trauma Unit Level 3 certification thanks to new equipment, the new helipad on the roof of the tower, and the addition of two trauma rooms in the new facility.
Francis said the expansion also gives a boost to the local economy by attracting more professionals to the area.
“The number of professional people we attract here, like for example our ER staff. You normally don’t have a lot of people moving here for jobs, but we’ve seen a real influx, and it does help the economy,” he said.
Hazard ARH Community CEO Dan Stone said the new facility looks much more inviting for patients and their families, which he said could help in recovery.
“I think it’s such a warm, friendly environment, and I think that’s great, particularly for our patients that are very sick,” Stone said.
Craft said she and the entire ARH staff are excited to begin opening the facility to the community and improve the care given to those in Southeastern Kentucky.
“It doesn’t matter where they live. They still deserve good health care,” Craft said.
Amelia Holliday can be reached at 606-436-5771, or on Twitter @HazardHerald.