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Bristol Hospital moves ahead with $15M emergency-room overhaul

By Hartford Business Journal

October 09, 2019

Bristol Hospital is preparing to embark on the next phase of a $15-million expansion and renovation that will roughly double the size of its emergency department.

The 169-bed hospital, part of Bristol Health, recently applied to the city for a special permit. The hospital hopes to begin construction before year’s end on an approximately 13,000-square-foot expansion of the existing emergency department (which Bristol calls its Emergency Center).
The addition would largely be built on what is currently a road that runs through the campus. 

After that, the final phase of the project would begin -- a major renovation and redesign of Bristol’s existing emergency department, with an anticipated completion date of late 2021 -- coinciding with the independent hospital’s 100th anniversary, Bristol officials told HBJ on Wednesday.

The hospital is aiming to increase patient volumes in the emergency department, which currently sees upwards of 40,000 patients per year, improve the experience patients and their families have in the department, and increase safety and reduce stress for doctors and other providers working there.

“At some hospitals, the emergency department is the back door; I think at Bristol, we’re definitely the front door,” said Dr. Andrew Lim, emergency medicine chair for Bristol Health. “It will be nice to have a physical space that matches the work we’re doing.”

The first phase, completed a few months ago, was a 10-bed behavioral health unit inside the emergency department.

The redesigned, expanded department will allow providers to better see and monitor the several dozen patient rooms from a central location. It will also allow for better handling of fluctuations in patient demand, such as during flu season, which sets in around now, Lim said.

“Our current set up is a little bit piecemeal,” he said. ”I think we’ll have a lot better flow.”

The design calls for the new and old square footage to be one unified space, said project manager Tom Roche.

“We’re treating it as one big emergency department renovation,” Roche said.

He said the trickiest piece will be the expansion, since it involves digging up the road outside. The hospital needs to ensure it maintains safe access for ambulances and patients throughout, he said.

The hospital is financing the project through the Connecticut Health and Educational Facilities Authority, which in June issued $34.6 million in bonds for the project as well as refinancing of prior hospital debt.

It has also been fundraising.

Mary Lynn Gagnon, executive director of the Bristol Hospital Development Foundation, said she is aiming to raise between $4.5 and $5 million in donations. Since the campaign launched in April, the foundation is up to $3.8 million, she said.