[caption id="attachment_80492" align="alignleft" width="220"] A rendering of the expanded Memorial Hospital emergency department.[/caption]

SANTA ROSA -- St. Joseph Health-owned Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital recently completed the first phase of expanding its emergency department, a $15 million project that will ultimately add 50 percent more capacity at the region's busiest trauma center.

Earlier this week, the state Department of Public Health authorized the 278-bed level hospital to open the first phase to patients, signaling a key milestone, according to the hospital.

The 4,228-square-foot expansion, which broke ground in May 2012, significantly enlarges the 19-bay, 9, 280-square-foot emergency room, which will house 26 private treatment rooms when the project is complete in June 2014.

As of this week, the hospital’s emergency department capacity had increased to 23 beds, including the six fully private, walled-in rooms that are part of the new space.

“We’re excited to open this state-of-the-art facility,” said Todd Salnas, president of St. Joseph Health in Sonoma County. “It means more personalized, private care for our patients and greater comfort. And the expanded space will enable us to reduce patients’ wait times.”

As the North Coast' only level II trauma center, the hospital’s emergency and trauma teams treat the most critically ill and injured patients from an area that expands beyond five counties

Features of the new space in which patients were treated include: an enlarged waiting area with seating for 60 people and a roomier registration and reception area; additional private space for consultations with patient families; a furnished outdoor patio and garden – an extension of the waiting area for patients and families; and six private rooms fully enclosed by walls and private doors.

By June 2014, all treatment beds in Memorial’s ER will be similarly upgraded. To date, the hospital said it has raised $7 million in donations to help support the $15 million project. On average, Memorial’s emergency department treats about 100 patients per day, or 38,925 patients per year.

Santa Rosa-based Wright Contracting is the general contractor on the project, and Los Angeles-based RBB Architects designed the project. BKF Engineers from Santa Rosa is the civil engineer for the the project.