While the town of Westminster itself is home to just 17,000residents, Carroll County has about 160,000 residents, a numberthat has increased consistently and significantly over the lastdecade. Hospital officials, conscious of the rapidly growingpopulation in the county, sought and won approval for the projectfrom the Maryland Healthcare Commission in January. "Thisconstruction project will help ease many of the challengesassociated with the hospital continually operating at capacitylevels," hospital president and CEO John Sernulka says in astatement on the project's approval. The hospital treated some40,000 individuals in its emergency department alone in 2000."There was a 16% increase in the demand for emergency servicescompared to last year," Sernulka continues. "The expansion willprovide us with the space we need to improve patient flow andstreamline the entire treatment process."

As part of phase one, which is scheduled for completion sometimein 2003, the building's front entrance will be updated as well. Thehospital is funding the expansion through cash reserves, bondfinancing and its $8 million Fulfilling the Promise fund-raisingcampaign. The project's second phase, which is to be completed in2004, will involve expanding space for outpatient services such ascardiac rehabilitation, physical therapy and new medical programs.Ultimately, renovation will increase the medical facility's size bymore than 40% to 378,000 sf.

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