Brick's planning board has approved a plan by Ocean Medical Center to expand the hospital's emergency department and add additional floors to the facility.
The emergency department will grow from an 8,000 square foot facility to a 46,000 square foot facility under the plan.
The expansion plan calls for the emergency department to double its capacity from 24 beds to 49 beds, and increase the department's physical size by more than five times, from 8,000 square feet to 46,000 square feet.
The hospital currently has about 51,000 emergency room visits per year, according to Charles Griffin, one of the architects of the proposed new addition. He told planning board members at a hearing that the current E.R. facility is less than half of the space recommended by the College of American Emergency Department Physicians for the volume of patients Ocean Medical Centers treats.
Under the proposed plan, a three-story addition will be added to the hospital to the west of the existing building, eating up a majority of a parking lot there. The emergency department will be located on the first floor, and the second and third floors will overhang the emergency drop-off location. Planners said at the meeting that in years to come another two floors could be added on top of the proposed three.
The second and third floors of the new addition will be "shell space" to start, though 36 private hospital rooms will be planned for the third floor. Hospital officials have not determined what the current emergency room will be used for, according to Chris Cirrotti, an engineer on the project, but the Family Care area of the current emergency department will evolve to become an administrative suite.
In addition to the new emergency department, the expansion project will include a new loading dock - an underground facility for materials handling. At that facility, medical and surgical supplies will delivered almost daily, according to Regina Foley, the hospital's Chief Operating Officer. The existing loading dock will be used for food deliveries.
Hospital officials tweaked a few aspects of the plan from a previous appearance before the board last October. At that meeting, residents from neighborhoods bordering the hospital objected to the plan, telling a reporter after the meeting that the new facility would be too close to their homes, and issues ranging from noise to sun glare off glass windows would affect their quality of life.
To that end, the project will now include an enhanced sound barrier between the loading area and the hospital's cooling towers, and a different type of glass that will control glare, according to Township Planner Mike Fowler.
"The plan basically is the same, but they made some improvements," Fowler said.
The new addition will take about 20 months to complete, said Cirrotti, the engineer, and an interim entrance to the current emergency room will be created during that time period.