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MOUNT CLEMENS, MI-Mount Clemens General Hospital has broken ground on a $52-million surgical center Tuesday, just moments before the ribbon was cut on a new $10.6-million parking deck.

Hospital officials have been anxious to begin work on the new four-story, 151,000-sf surgical center, but said the work on the 900-vehicle parking structure had to be completed first to give construction crews room to work and maneuver.

“Our current operating rooms were built in 1982,” said Dr. James Jordan, medical director of surgical services at the hospital. “Many of the procedures we consider routine today were only in their infancy or not yet being performed at that time. In 2003, surgery is vastly different with much more equipment and specialized tools that require space.”

Bob Milewski, the hospital’s CEO, said the parking shortage has been a growing issue at the hospital.

“Back in 1997, we had approximately 11,300 hospital admissions. Last year it was nearly 15,800. People coming to the hospital expect that they will be able to park their vehicle,” Milewski said.

The new surgical suite will feature eight operating rooms, with expansion space for two more rooms. The new facility, referred to as “the north tower” will also have pre- and post-operative areas with their own waiting rooms and entry and exit ways. The hospital’s existing 12 operating rooms will eventually be renovated into six rooms, to accommodate new equipment and technology needs. The surgical center is expected to be completed by fourth quarter of 2005.

The expansion project at Mount Clemens General is one of several under way in Macomb County. St. Joseph’s Mercy-West in Clinton Township, St. John Macomb Hospital in Warren and Bi-County Community in Warren all have major, multi-million-dollar projects in various stages of construction.

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