The Health Care Authority of Cullman County/ Cullman Regional Board of Directors announced today that the Alabama State Health Planning & Development Agency has approved the Certificate of Need (CON) for the $30 million expansion project announced by Cullman Regional in June of 2019. The expansion will increase the capacity of the Critical Care Unit (ICU) by 50%, increase the capacity of the Emergency Department by 50% and reduce the usage of semi-private rooms throughout the facility.
“We appreciate the Alabama Certificate of Need Board for their unwavering support of this project,” Board Chair Beth Anderson said. “Cullman Regional continues to see a growing number of patients through the Emergency Department,” 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 are sicker and require a higher-level of care which is provided best in our critical care unit (ICU). 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 (CCU) from 12 to 18
- Expand the current Emergency Room Facility from 21 exam rooms and 3 behavioral health treatment rooms to 30 exam rooms and 8 behavioral health treatment rooms
- Create an Outpatient Behavioral Health Program
- Hospital-wide infrastructure upgrades to accommodate the additional capacity
“In order for us to more effectively and efficiently provide care for all patients coming to us for treatment, these upgrades to our current facility are necessary,” Cullman Regional CEO James Clements said. “Particularly the need for more effective treatment options for our behavioral health patients. We are eager to find a solution that provides long-term, sustainable care to behavioral health patients in our community. ”
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 that is not unique to Cullman County. Cullman Regional’s goal with the Outpatient Behavioral Health Program is to provide care for patients in our community that consistently face barriers to receiving behavioral health care. As the project progresses, the hospital will continue to share updates about what this specifically looks like for our community.
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 the 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, when more patients are being admitted. By reallocating those beds and expanding our ICU, we will be able to care for more critically-ill patients.”
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 our community
- Upgrade existing infrastructure to make it more sustainable for the future
The board facilities committee anticipates construction will begin in the third quarter of 2020. Phase 1 of construction will include the expansion of the Emergency Department; 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.