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Longview Regional Medical Center expansion gets final OK from council

By Sherry Koonce skoonce@news-journal.com
July 12, 2012 at 10 p.m.


Changes to the long-familiar landscape around Longview Regional Medical Center could start to be seen early next week with council approval of plans for a major hospital expansion.

Until the multi-million dollar project is complete in late 2013, motorists could experience an increase in traffic congestion around the hospital at 2901 N. Fourth St., and will eventually see a new traffic signal and turn lane at the hospital's relocated Fourth Street entrance. The removal of large trees along Fourth Street to make room for 646 new parking spaces especially could bring traffic issues.

The City Council unanimously approved plans for the project Thursday.

"We are excited about this expansion," said Tim Vaughn, president of the hospital's board of directors. "We are basically doubling our campus."

Because the expansion will completed in phases, he said it is difficult to put a total price tag on the project.

"All I can say is it is a multi-million project," Vaughan said of the expansion and remodeling project. Earlier, an official said only that it would be in excess of $40 million.

The 175,000-square-foot expansion will add nearly 100 all acute care private rooms, a new three-story vertical tower and add a third and fourth floor to the existing tower.

New physician office space will allow doctors to be closer to their patients.

Once completed, the hospital's surgery unit will double its operating rooms from eight to 16 and its intensive care unit beds from 12 to 24.

Labor delivery and postpartum beds will increase from 15 to 43.

A new neonatal intensive care unit with 21 beds will be added, as well as a new oncology unit with eight beds.

At the recommendation of a traffic study performed by a third-party engineer, a traffic signal will be installed at Medical Circle and Fourth Street to help with traffic flow associated with increased traffic at a relocated entrance.

Longview Regional will pay for the signal, said Michael Shirley, city planner.

The traffic study also recommended installation of a left turn lane on Fourth Street.

"There will be a lot more people coming to the facility, so traffic is going to increase," Shirley said.

Initially, the project will involve a lot of demolition work associated with tearing down two existing office buildings.

Where those buildings stood, a new boulevard entrance on Medical Circle will be created.

Mayor Jay Dean said the expansion would enhance health care in the Longview area.

"We are blessed to have two really great hospitals in our community," he said, referring to Longview Regional and Good Shepherd Medical Center. Separately, Good Shepherd has announced its own $20 million expansion project expected to begin later this year.

In addition to adding to local health care, the Longview Regional project is creating local construction jobs. And Dean said the hospital was committed to hiring local contractors.

"There are a lot of people here needing to work, so hopefully this will be a shot in the arm," Dean said.

Dean is a former member of the Longview Regional board.

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