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Murray County Medical Center to expand

justine wettschreck/Daily Globe Murray County Medical Center Chief Nursing Officer Shari Achterhoff and CEO Mel Snow explain the upcoming expansion project for the facility during the Slayton Farm and Home Show Saturday.

SLAYTON -- All sorts of things begin to grow in the spring, and in 2012 the Murray County Medical Center (MCMC) will be one of them.

As soon as the weather cooperates, hopefully by early April, construction will begin on a 34,000 square foot expansion of the MCMC, which will add to both the clinic and hospital. The cost of the project is expected to be approximately $14 million, with $9 million of that being paid in cash and the balance financed with local banks.

"Our plan is to have the clinic portion done by the end of the year and the hospital done in 2013," said MCMC Chief Nursing Officer Shari Achterhoff.

Achterhoff and Chief Executive Officer Mel Snow were on hand Saturday at the Slayton Farm and Home Show to talk to the public about the building project, using architectural drawings and textile samples to explain what would be happening.

In the clinic, four physician offices and 12 exam rooms will be built, and in the hospital 14 new private inpatient rooms will be added. The old lobby will become administrative offices. There will be a new kitchen, new dining room and a small coffee shop.

"Even if you have no business at the hospital, you can come in for coffee and a muffin," Achterhoff said.

When the expansion is complete, people will enter the hospital and clinic from one main entrance, rather than the separate entrances that now exist. The new entrance and lobby will still be accessed from Juniper Street, but right at the street instead of up a long sidewalk. Registration will be centralized, and a new pharmacy, administrative suite, respiratory therapy and purchasing area will be added.

The helicopter pad is being removed, Achterhoff said, and emergency flights will land at the city airport. There will be an enclosed ambulance entrance. A physical therapy room will be added, as will a chapel.

Currently, MCMC is paying thousands of dollars a month to rent office space from Sunrise Terrace, Achterhoff said.

Moving those offices back into the hospital will save those dollars.

An MRI, mammogram, bone density area and ultrasound room will also be added.

"All of the staff has been asked for input," Achterhoff said. "This expansion should be good for many years."

She is especially happy about the private inpatient rooms, which will be situated in what she described as a "race track," with rooms running around the outside of a nursing station. All of the private rooms will be family friendly, she said. Several of the rooms will contain ceiling lifts to aid in moving patients who aren't mobile.

Achterhoff said the hospital has not expanded since the late 1970s.

There has been remodeling inside, but not with any major space being added.

"This will be a big asset for the community and county," she said. "We've become a regional facility and are continuing to grow."

While a small amount of shuffling and rearranging will be necessary during the construction process, Achterhoff said a plan is in place to make the moving and building as seamless as possible for patients.

Daily Globe Reporter Justine Wettschreck can be reached at