As the region continues to grow, Methodist Richardson Medical Center is planning a $45 million expansion to its emergency room building to meet the increasing demand for medical services.

According to construction plans, the renovations will add two new floors totaling about 80,000 square feet to the hospital building. Another 25,000 square feet or so will be remodeled. The expansion will allow the emergency department to increase its number of patient beds from 26 to 44.

Hospital officials said construction will likely begin in summer 2022.

“There are several pillars that make our community successful, and one of those is access to quality health care,” Richardson Mayor Paul Voelker said in a statement. “Having Methodist Richardson Medical Center and its dedicated, caring health care providers here saves lives.”

Methodist Richardson, along with its specialty and continuing care clinics, reported 55,000 ER visits through November of this year, according to a department report.

“We are able to handle a lot of new patients, and the expansion is going to help feed off of that,” said Rebecca Flanigan, the hospital’s emergency department manager.

Planning for growth

This will be the third major expansion for the city’s largest hospital after opening in 2014 with 120 beds. The hospital now has 269 beds.

Methodist Richardson President Ken Hutchenrider said the expansion will allow the ER to more effectively serve the growing number of patients.

“Over 50% of our admissions come through our emergency department, so it is certainly the front door of our hospital,” he said. “We just want to make it what it needs to be from a size and space standpoint.”

As part of the expansion, the first-floor pharmacy department and lab will move to the new third floor. The extra space will then be renovated for ER use.

Hospital officials said the ER department will also hire more staff as part of the expansion but have not yet released specifics.

Hutchenrider, who is also a member of the Richardson City Council, said the construction will not affect ongoing hospital or ER services.

Expanding services

The second floor of the ER building will be left empty for future expansion, Hutchenrider said. The hospital also plans to continue to increase its capacity and services to keep up with demand, he said.

That growth is expected to include Methodist Richardson improving upon its current Level IV trauma center status, Hutchenrider said. According to the American Trauma Society, a hospital at Level IV can evaluate, stabilize and diagnose severely injured patients and offer life support treatment before transferring them to a higher level facility for any further treatment.

Hutchenrider said the expansion to the ER will give the hospital the capability to move up to the Level III trauma center status. Level III centers can provide assessment, resuscitation, surgery, intensive care and stabilization of injured patients, and emergency operations, according to the American Trauma Society.

Methodist Richardson will eventually be a Level II trauma center, Hutchenrider said. That means the hospital would have the ability to provide care and services to nearly all emergency or trauma-type injuries.

“If someone has a significant injury from a trauma-related accident, then they can receive services very close to home,” Hutchenrider said.

Methodist Richardson emergency services can treat ailments such as heart attacks, severe intestinal issues, head injuries, seizures and more. Hutchenrider said the hospital added orthopedic surgeons earlier this year and is working to become a comprehensive stroke center.

Flanigan said the planned expansion coupled with the higher trauma rating will help the department serve even more patients in an effective manner.

“This is going to help us get them in, get them diagnosed more quickly and get them taken care of,” she said. “We are getting ahead of [the growth].”

Taking care of the region

In 2012, hospital officials projected that Methodist Richardson would discharge about 5,000 patients per year by 2019. In 2020, the hospital reported more than 14,000 patients discharged, according to its website.

Flanigan said a unique quality of Methodist Richardson is that it serves such an expansive region. Data provided by Methodist Richardson shows that more than 1.1 million people live within the hospital’s service area.

Flanigan said that because the hospital is located more northeast than other major area hospitals, it acts as a medical hub for northeastern Dallas County, southeastern Collin County and parts of Rockwall County.

“[People in those areas] rely on the hospital,” she said.

Methodist Richardson also has a partnership with Richardson ISD to help train students interested in pursuing a career in the medical field. As part of the district’s career and technical education program, students are able to take classes at the Methodist Richardson Campus for Continuing Care, which is a specialized hospital that offers limited services.

RISD interim Superintendent Tabitha Branum called Methodist Richardson an “indispensable partner and supporter” of the district.

“The innovative partnership offers guaranteed opportunities to interview for open positions at [Methodist Richardson] upon completion of RISD programming that often results in a certification or licensure that allows students to become workforce ready right out of high school,” Branum said in a statement.

William C. Wadsack contributed to this report.