LAURENS COUNTY, S.C. --
The Laurens County Hospital has found a cure to help the community it serves cope with growing pains.
The hospital treats 30,000 patients each year, but the emergency room only has 12 beds.
"There are days especially in this last month, where we have the ER full. Every bed in the house is full. The ER is full. People are waiting in the lobby. We have beds in the hallway. There's just no place to go. So, this is a community that deserves better," said hospital President and CEO, Rich D'Alberto.
On Tuesday, hospital staff broke ground on a major expansion project. A large crowd gathered outside the facility to celebrate.
"This is something the community's needed for a long time," said Dr. Jerett Tozzi. "We've definitely not had the space to really provide the amount of care that's necessary."
The upgrade will take the ER from 12 beds to 22. Plus, there will be dedicated areas for coronary, pediatric, trauma and critical care.
The pharmacy will get bigger and better, and a new women's center will be added to the facility.
The women's facility will have add more labor, delivery, recovery and postpartum rooms to the hospital. An education area is also planned for the center.
"We're definitely going to be able to care for people in a much more timely and efficient environment," Tozzi said.
The cost of the expansion and upgrade is $17 million. D'Alberto said hospital revenue will pay the bill.
Some work has already started, like moving the helipad closer to the ER. Steel is expected to start going up in May. The construction projected is slated to be finished in 15 months.
"We've been planning this for a number of years. It's just great to see it come to fruition," said D'Alberto.
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