Nashua hospital begins $17m expansion

Southern New Hampshire Medical Center in Nashua has broken ground on a $17 million, 22,000-square-foot addition that will double the size of the facility’s emergency room as well as add space for a centralized cardiac center, more private rooms and a second and third ambulance bay.

“The emergency room was originally constructed in 1972, when it was serving 22,000 emergency room patients annually,” said Tom Wilhelmsen, president and CEO of the medical center. “Since 1972, activity in the ER has more than doubled to over 44,000 visits a year. We are one of the busiest ERs in the state.”

The ER construction will occur in two phases, he said. During the first phase, an additional 9,000 square feet will be added on the Spring Street side of the building in the former emergency parking lot. When that is completed, the ER will move into the new space while the present ER is renovated. Upon completion of the renovation, the emergency room will be doubled in size and completely refurbished.

The additional space the center will have on the first floor above the emergency room will provide the room for a new cardiac center, which will be next to the intensive care unit.

Rick Duguay, vice president of clinical and support services, said the emergency room design process included ER physicians, nursing and support services staff working with the Portsmouth architectural firm of JSA Inc.

“We used their combined knowledge and talents to produce the functional, state-of-the-art plan currently under construction by Harvey Construction of New Hampshire in Nashua. When finished, this project will welcome our community to one of the most experienced emergency rooms in the state,” said Duguay.

Wilhelmsen said the project is “part of our Vision 2010, which is part of a larger vision of our organization” which employees helped craft. The plan is based on five core values — people, service, quality, finance and growth — he said.

“We’re very excited about this because we will be consolidating all cardiac care – the patients, the doctors’ practices and diagnostic equipment such as stress test machines, will all be in this center,” he said.

Wilhelmsen said when the hospital gets close to the point that demand necessitates the use of eight operating rooms for surgery, additional ones will be built. Right now, the center sees more than 6,000 surgical procedures a year, the bulk of which are outpatient surgeries.

“We know we have an aging population that will have a significant impact on health care utilization,” he said. “In the next 10 years, of those aged 45 to 64 years old, it is expected that population will grow by 18 percent and for those 65 years and over, it is expected to grow by 20 percent. The increasing demands on our service are driving a lot of our development and the worst thing we could do is not be prepared to meet those demands.”

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