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WATCH NOW: Sovah Health-Danville to renovate, expand emergency department
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WATCH NOW: Sovah Health-Danville to renovate, expand emergency department

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Sovah Health announced Tuesday a $12 million renovation to expand the size of its emergency department in Danville by 50%.

Officials announced the project during a ceremony in the parking lot across the street from the hospital’s emergency department entrance.

The construction, which is expected to take more than two years to complete, would expand the emergency department from 14,000 square feet to 21,000.

The number of rooms would grow from the current 22 full-sized rooms and six smaller rooms to 31 full-sized rooms, Sovah Health-Danville Chief Operating Officer John Kent said.

“This project has been many, many years in the making,” Sovah Health-Danville CEO Alan Larson said during the event.

Besides Sovah Health-Danville officials, Danville Mayor Alonzo Jones, Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors Chair Bob Warren and Caswell County (N.C.) Board of Commissioners Chair David Owen offered remarks. Kasey Seay, EMS coordinator for Pittsylvania County, spoke at the event.

Renovations, to be completed in phases, also will include relocation of ambulance bays to reduce congestion and improve access.

“This is a tremendous addition to our community,” said Dr. Richard Smith, emergency medical physician at Sovah Health-Danville.

The expansion will accommodate the increasing need for emergency services in the community the hospital serves, which includes Southside Virginia and northern North Carolina, officials said. It will improve patient and staff flow, expand triage and reduce wait times.

There were almost 50,000 visits to the emergency room in 2019, Larson said.

“Our emergency room is our hospital’s front door, and the number of people who come through those doors is increasing exponentially each year,” he said in a prepared statement. “We are so excited to have this opportunity to rebuild our ER into a first-class facility that is better suited to meet the growing needs of our community and will help our incredible emergency medicine team provide an even higher level of care to those we serve.”

Once it’s complete, the new emergency room will have a centrally located clinical workstation, making it faster and easier for clinicians to move through the space and provide a clear view of patients areas at all times, officials said. A new patient monitoring system will also be included in the project.

There have been no major upgrades to the emergency department since 1995, said Dr. Gary Miller, a cardiologist and a member of Danville City Council.

“It’s time for a change,” Miller said.

Miller and other officials also pointed to the role an up-to-date hospital plays in economic development. When employers consider locating to a community, they inquire about the quality of health care, they said.

LifePoint Health, which owns the hospital, is paying for the construction. Since buying the hospital in 2005, LifePoint has made more than $100 million in capital improvements at the facility, Larson said.

Kent told the Danville Register & Bee that the upcoming Caesars Virginia casino in Danville played a role in the company’s willingness to invest in the project.

The design phase will take about six months, then construction would begin, Kent said.

The work will be done in a way to prevent disruption of providing service for patients, Kent said.

“This is not going to be an easy project,” he said.

The hospital has been a part of Danville since 1884 and at its current location since 1927, Larson said.

Sovah Health has two hospital campuses — the other is in Martinsville — and in Danville employs about 1,300, with 175 physicians on its medical staff.

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