- Associated Press - Monday, May 23, 2016

COLUMBUS, Ind. (AP) - A southern Indiana hospital is wrapping up an expansion project that was delayed for several years after flash flooding in 2008 caused nearly $180 million in damage.

Columbus Regional Hospital’s new emergency department is scheduled to open Wednesday on the southeast side of the hospital’s main building, The (Columbus) Republic (https://bit.ly/1WN6SjV ) reported. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held last Tuesday for the facility.

Jim Bickel, the hospital’s president and CEO, said last week during a preview tour for city leaders and the media that the opening marks years of planning and hard work that date back to 2007, when plans were formed for the new facility.

The project was put on hold in 2008 as money earmarked for a down payment on the renovation had to be used to pay hospital employees during the five months the facility was closed for flood damage repairs. The hospital relaunched the plans for the new department in 2013 and construction began in 2014.

The new 16,350-square-foot department is twice the size and designed to handle twice as many patients as the previous emergency room unit. Hospital officials expect the new facility’s opening to address the waiting issue in the overcrowded former emergency department.

The old department was designed to handle 20,000 to 25,000 patients a year, but it saw 41,000 patients in 2015. The new department is designed to handle as many as 50,000 patients a year, and trending suggests it will see 44,000 patients in 2016.

The hospital invested $16 million in the new department.

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Information from: The Republic, https://www.therepublic.com/

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