First Street entrance now closed as SCMC breaks ground on Emergency Room expansion

The Stevens Community Medical Center broke ground on a 16,000 square foot addition to the medical center Tuesday, June 20, in Morris.

The emergency room will see the largest benefit from the expansion, which includes an 11,000 square foot main floor with an extra 5,000 square feet on the upper level.

“The current ER is fully operational during this project, it’s just that patients will arrive at the South Street entrance instead of First Street,” Chief Executive Office Kerrie McEvilly said at the small ceremony prior to the groundbreaking Tuesday morning.

“The goal is to better meet the growing needs of our patients with optimal design, safety and technology,” McEvilly added.

To the west of the new ER will be a radiology suite that will house a new, large bore MRI as well as a Dexa Scan.

A MRI that was housed near the First Street entrance was sold and moved off the property recently. Because the building it was housed in, along with the awning above the First Street entrance and the current ambulance garage will be removed to provide adequate space for the addition.

“We have an MRI that’s fully operational during this project, it’s on the southeast corner of the property in our upper parking lot,” McEvilly said.

Maintenance Director Rick Heike is working closely with the construction company, Carlson LaVine out of Roseville, on any details involving construction and current navigation inside SCMC to route patients from the South Street entrance to the current ER department.

“The goal is to have the expansion weather-tight by winter,” McEvilly said of the addition that has a planned completion date of late summer 2024.

From the first-floor addition, there will be an elevator installed for transport to the inpatient and surgical portion of the hospital.

“Much of the upper level addition will be unfinished for future expansion,” McEvilly said.

However, SCMC will be remodeling and expanding the inpatient physical therapy and cardiac rehabilitation room during this project.

“On the first floor, the PT department will be remodeled to provide for an expanded gym area for those patients,” stated McEvilly.

SCMC is funding this entire project without any external financing.

The excitement of the expansion was summed up by ER Physician and Medical Director Dr. Jason Hughes at the ceremony Tuesday.

“We needed to gain some more space as we’ve had more patients come through,” Hughes said of the eight percent increase in volume of patients seen in the emergency department.

“It took a team to make this happen,” Hughes stated. “Our emergency room will be bigger, more streamlined, get patients through a little easier and more efficiently than we have in the past.”

However the road to get to that end result will be a little painful for the next 14-18 months, he continued.

“One thing we need to get ready for is what I call the Broadway Show as we bring patients from the South entrance all the way north to the emergency room. I think it should go with music or monkey with a cog, but I’m not sure we’ll have those provided.”

Change is painful, but change is also necessary, Hughes concluded.

“Change is hard and often painful, but we are going to change for the better. We are going to make this better.”