The Rapides Healthcare System Board of Directors has approved a $12.5 million expansion of the Emergency Department at Rapides Regional Medical Center.

When fully operational in the first quarter of 2016, the emergency department at RRMC will nearly double in size by adding more than 16,000 square feet. It will be one of the largest emergency facilities in Louisiana.

“This is another example of Rapides Regional Medical Center leading the way to meet the health care demands of our neighbors in Central Louisiana,” said Jason Cobb, Chief Executive Officer of Rapides Healthcare System and Rapides Regional Medical Center. “We opened our new, larger emergency department in 2008, and quickly realized another expansion would be needed.”

The expansion is due in part to the high patient volume in the RRMC Emergency Department. RRMC treated 69,201 patients through the ED in 2013 and is on pace to exceed that total in 2014, continuing an annual trend. Nearly 70 percent of the admissions to RRMC come through the Emergency Department.

In addition, the Rapides Regional Trauma Center was verified by the American College of Surgeons in 2012 as the first Level II trauma center in Louisiana. RRMC’s Trauma Center treats patients who arrive from all regions of the state, as well as east Texas and west Mississippi.

“As a trauma center, our emergency department sees more patients than ever and treats patients with more complex injuries,” said Cobb.

Contractor Donahue Favret of Mandeville is set to begin work the first week of September. Construction will take place in three phases:

Phase 1: Remove the parking lot nearest the main entrance of RRMC and relocate the handicap parking spots to allow for new construction. The main entrance to RRMC and valet parking at the main entrance will not be impacted. The current entrance to the Emergency Department, as well as the hallway that leads to the hospital lobby, will remain open during Phase 1 construction.

Phase 2: Demolition of the current entrance to the Emergency Department and removal of some existing parking to allow for new construction. In the final stage, the new construction of Phases 1 and 2 will be merged, and a new entrance to the Emergency Department will open.

Phase 3: Internal work on the current Emergency Department.

When completed, the Emergency Department will feature 51 beds, including four designated trauma rooms, and four additional psychiatric rooms. RRMC will increase staffing to meet the demands of the expansion and patient volume.

“We know that some inconveniences will take place during construction, and we’ve worked with our contractor to minimize them” said Becky Barnes, RRMC Chief Operating Officer. “We are confident when the new Emergency Room opens that our patients will welcome the first-class, state-of-the-art facility that they have come to expect from Rapides Regional Medical Center.”