BRANSON, Mo. -- Members of Cox Medical Center Branson celebrated a "topping" ceremony Thursday, inching closer to the completion of the multi-million dollar Emergency Department building.
The placement of the highest beam not only marks a stepping stone, it also signifies a promise kept by Cox Health Services.
"This is part of what Cox agreed to invest in our community when they made a deal with us last January," says William Mahoney, Cox president and CEO in Branson
Mahoney says even though Branson's population is only 10,500, nearly 40,000 people come through the emergency room doors each year.
$30.8 million is being spent on renovations and building the three-story building that will hold the Emergency Department and expanded intensive care area. Altogether it will feature more than 30 treatment rooms, 20 private rooms, larger waiting areas for families, and easier access to labs within the hospital.
Once complete, the project will allow Cox to serve nearly 60,000 patients each year.
"It's also a driver for economic development," says Mahoney, "When businesses come in, one of their higher costs are healthcare, we can work with them to provide affordable care for them and their employees."
Part of the expansion is also allowing for easier access to the front of the ER. The driveway will be remodeled to have an airport style look, with two lanes, for drive through and drop off.
"Our old Emergency Department worked well, but it was probably 30 years old in design and much smaller than the count volume we see," says Dr. Jake Roberts. The Director of the Emergency Department says in addition to adding eight new doctors and some of the latest technology, the new Department will also allow some patients to get everything they need in one place.
"We have many retirees, many veterans here in Branson," says Dr. Roberts, "And having a close facility, with their own primary care doctor, is very nice."
The project is expected to be complete around Thanksgiving 2014, with a third floor "shell" being put in strictly for future expansion.
"This is a sign of stability for out community," says Mahoney, "That we'll have health care here, from now to 100 (or) 200 years from now."