The University of Alabama Birmingham (UAB) is about to spend $73 million to expand its emergency room (ER), reportedly due to excessive demand on the hospital’s current facilities.

According to the Birmingham Business Journal, the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees, which oversees UAB as well as several other Alabama institutions of higher education, recently approved a preliminary project scope and budget.

The project purports to add 66,000 square feet of space and 59 new exam rooms on two floors. Its construction alone is expected to cost $43.5 million. Other costs, such as service fees and furnishings, are expected to bring the project total to $73 million.

Project planners hope to begin construction in April 2024, but UAB officials are also looking for temporary relief to address what the planners say is an increase in patient volume in the ER as high as 25%.

To address these concerns over the next year, UAB will temporarily expand and renovate facilities, which should cost them $8.4 million. The University of Alabama Board of Trustees already approved renovation plans to lease and install two temporary mobile treatment units in March. This should add 26 treatment spaces to the emergency department.

Several factors were named as reasons for the excessive demand for the ER, including high trauma volume and an aging population. Additionally, the White House is expected to reinstitute certain regulations on alternative space use on May 11 that were initially lifted during the COVID-19 pandemic to accommodate demand increases due to the virus.

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