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Planners back City Hospital expansion

July 08, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- Site plans proposing an expansion of facilities and parking at City Hospital that will allow it to increase its emergency, intensive care and cardiac services in Martinsburg were unanimously approved Wednesday by the city's planning commission.

The $28 million project is expected to be complete by the end of 2010, according to Anthony P. "Tony" Zelenka, chief administrative officer at City Hospital, which is part of West Virginia University Hospitals-East.

The 5-0 vote by the planning commission came with a contingency that the hospital continue to work with emergency responders for up to 60 days to optimize access to what will be an expanded Emergency Department.

"If we're going to make this large expansion to serve the public, then we can't attach something that's going to create a problem for our first responders by having a less than ideal situation for how they load and unload patients," City Engineer Michael Covell told commissioners.

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The Planning Commission on Wednesday was presented with a concept that showed angled parking spaces in the area of the emergency responders entrance, which Covell said was one of the more ideal scenarios for providing better access.

"It's very tight in that back (area)," Covell said.

Zelenka said in an interview that the expanded emergency department in the southeast corner of the facility could allow the hospital to handle as many as 65,000 visits per year, up from about 44,000 currently.

The number of rooms for the department will be increased to 40 from 27, Zelenka said.

An addition on the northwest corner of the building will provide a new intensive care and coronary care unit and a department for cardiac catheterization. The latter is a procedure that involves the insertion of a thin tube in a vein or artery to examine blood flow to the heart as well as the muscle's pumping strength.

"It's a branch of service that we as an acute care hospital need to be in," Zelenka said of the need for the catheterization service, which was launched at City Hospital on June 1.

The two-floor expansion would increase the number of beds for intensive care and coronary care to 20 beds, up from 12, Zelenka said.

WVU Hospitals-East received approval in November 2006 from the West Virginia Health Care Authority for the expansions through the regulatory agency's "certificate of need" process. Zelenka said available funding contributed to the project's delay.

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