FORT WORTH -- Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth will break ground today on a $57.7 million emergency department that will roughly triple the ER's space and boost its beds by nearly 50 percent.
The emergency care center, at West Terrell and Fifth avenues, will be just south of the existing emergency department, which treated 97,309 patients last year and expects to treat 100,000 this year.
The new facility will be separated from the main hospital by Terrell Avenue and connected by an elevated walkway.
Lillie Biggins, the hospital's president, said she has wanted to expand the emergency department "ever since I hit the door here 15 years ago." She said that the facility is already "one of the busiest emergency departments" in North Texas and that a larger one is needed to keep up with the area's rapid population growth.
The new emergency department is expected to open in fall 2013.
Biggins said trying to expand the existing ER would have taken three years and caused disruptions, so executives decided to build a separate facility.
Currently, Texas Health Fort Worth and John Peter Smith Hospital have similar-size emergency departments.
JPS saw about 90,000 patients at its 65-bed, 30,000-square-foot unit last year and has recently reorganized its operations to increase its effective capacity, spokeswoman Diana Carroll said.
Its ER is the county's only Level 1 trauma unit, the highest designation, and the hospital added a residency program last year in emergency medicine, she said.
Texas Health Fort Worth's new facility will have 90 beds, up from 63, and 75,000 square feet on three floors. The Level 2 unit will also include a training floor with a simulation lab for emergency care providers, and a clinic for follow-up care for elderly patients.
Biggins said the hospital has not determined how it will use the existing ER once the new facility is completed.
Jim Fuquay, 817-390-7552