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Longview Regional sets Thursday groundbreaking

By Mike Elswick
June 18, 2012 at 11 p.m.

Longview Regional Medical Center's will move forward on a couple of fronts this week, beginning with a groundbreaking ceremony at 10 a.m. Thursday

The project is also on the city's planning and zoning commission agenda for a 5:30 p.m. meeting today. The commission is scheduled to hold a public hearing on Longview Regional's request to amend zoning restrictions to allow for the expansion and remodeling of the hospital and medical offices on the Longview Regional campus.

Longview Regional's plans include 175,000 square feet of new construction and the addition of almost 100 patient beds, along with other remodeling, according to Longview Regional Medical Center CEO Jim Kendrick. Construction is expected to begin in July.

Features of the expansion include:

<ul> <li>Doubling of surgery operating rooms from 8 to 16;</li> <li>Doubling of intensive care unit beds from 12 to 24;</li> <li>Increasing labor delivery and postpartum beds from 15 to 43;</li> <li>A new neonatal intensive care unit with 21 beds;</li> <li>A new oncology unit with 8 beds.</li> </ul>

"This new facility supports our community's growth, patients' needs and physician partnerships, and we believe it is an important step in enhancing our patients' experience with us and continuing to deliver a higher level of personalized care," Kendrick said.

The hospital's request going before the Longview Planning and Zoning Commission today has received the city planning staff's recommendation for approval.

Among details outlined in staff comments for the project are that the addition of 646 new parking spaces will require some of the trees along North Fourth Street to be cut down.

"The site plan presented by the applicant shows the removal of all trees in the Fourth Street greenbelt area due to parking and fire lanes," city staff comments said. While city planners feel the removal of the mature trees will have a negative impact on the view, they said Longview Regional's plans include planting new ones.

"The applicant has shown that they will replant trees along Fourth Street to mitigate the tree removal," officials said. The staff also recommends the installation of a new traffic signal at Fourth Street and Medical Circle along with the addition of a left turn lane.

Kendrick said the plans represent a major investment on the part of the hospital and its parent, Tennessee-based Community Health Systems.

He said the the expansion will increase the number of patient beds from 131 to 230.

Longview Regional plans to add about 115,000 square feet to the medical center; renovate another 50,000 square feet and construct a new 60,000-square foot office tower. All of the patient rooms will be private acute care rooms.

Kendrick said construction is expected to be completed in about 18 months.



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