The Health Care Authority of Cullman County/ Cullman Regional Board of Directors has initiated a $30 million expansion to the current facility. The expansion will increase the capacity of the Critical Care Unit by 50 percent, increase the capacity of the Emergency Department by 50 percent and reduce the usage of semi-private rooms throughout the facility.
"Cullman Regional continues to see a growing number of patients through the Emergency Department," said Board Chair Beth Anderson. "Last year, the ER provided care for nearly 50,000 patients in a facility built to care for up to 40,000 annually. Many of these patients require a higher-level of care which is provided best in our critical care unit. Therefore, we need a solution that allows more critically-ill patients access to critical care beds more quickly."
The expansion plans include:
- Increase the number of Critical Care Beds from 12 to 18.
- Expand the current Emergency Room Facility from 21 exam rooms and three behavior health treatment rooms to 30 exam rooms and eight behavior health treatment rooms.
- Create an Outpatient Behavioral Health Program.
- Hospital-wide infrastructure upgrades to accommodate the additional capacity.
"These upgrades are necessary in order for us to more effectively provide care for all patients," Cullman Regional CEO James Clements said. "We particularly need more effective treatment options for our behavioral health patients in order to prevent continuous readmissions."
Cullman Regional's Emergency Department provided medical care to more than 1,000 behavioral health patients in 2018. Caring for behavioral health patients, is a national, state and local issue. Cullman Regional's goal with the Outpatient Behavioral Health Program is to provide care for patients who face barriers to receiving behavioral health care.
The overall facility will receive an infrastructure upgrade in order to accommodate the additional capacity. The infrastructure upgrade will include the expansion of the onsite power plant by approximately 1,100 square feet, replacement of the cooling towers, addition of two new chillers, addition of new elevator controls and modification of remaining two service elevators to allow them to access all levels of the hospital.
"The administrative team began reducing the use of semi-private rooms in the fourth quarter of 2018 and has only utilized them during high-census periods," Clements said.
The benefits of the expansion include:
- Reduction in semi-private room usage house wide.
- Expansion of emergency room capacity from 40,000 to 60,000 annually.
- Better access to the highest level of care for the sickest patients.
- Better access to outpatient behavioral health treatment for the community.
- Upgrades existing infrastructure to make it more sustainable for the future.
The hospital recently filed a Letter of Intent to file a Certificate of Need to the Alabama State Health Planning & Development Agency followed by the official filing of the CON. If approved, anticipated construction will begin in the third quarter of 2020. Phase 1 of construction will include the expansion of the Emergency Departmen. Phase 2 will include infrastructure improvements and Phase 3 will be the addition of the critical care beds which will be a ground floor to fourth floor expansion of the west units of the current facility.