KEARNEY — CHI Health Good Samaritan broke ground this morning for a new Emergency Room that will be more than twice the size of the current one.

Patients seen in the Good Sam ER have more than doubled in the last 25 years. Last year, Good Sam saw 12,586 patients in the ER, averaging 242 a week. In 1994, there were 6,192 ER visits, averaging 119 per week.

Completion of the 16,000-square-foot, $13 million expansion is planned for spring 2021.

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The new ER will use existing facility space, including parts of the current 7,500-square-foot ER, which was built in 1994. The new center will feature:

- 14 private patient care rooms;

- Two private patient consulting rooms;

- Five patient restrooms, including two with showers;

- Two triage exam rooms;

- Three general treatment rooms;

- Two behavioral health treatment rooms;

- A cast treatment room;

- An ENT treatment room;

- An OB/GYN treatment room;

- An isolation treatment room;

- Two major Illness/injury treatment rooms;

- A large trauma room that can support two patients.

The space also will feature a larger nurses station, a dispatch and communication center, staff work areas and more storage.

“Health care has made incredible advancements in the last 25 years. Built for equipment of the 1990s, our current space isn’t optimal for the new technology it currently houses. Our technology is already leading-edge; the new larger space will allow it to be used more efficiently and effectively,” said Mike Schnieders, CHI Health Good Samaritan president.

“We need more room for parking, waiting, triage and especially private treatment rooms configured to be the most efficient and effective for our patients. As the region’s designated trauma center, we want to provide the very best care and facilities,” he added.

The entrance to the new ER will be at the hospital’s main entrance at 10 E. 31st St., just west of A Avenue. The ambulance bay will remain where it is located currently.

While the ceremonial groundbreaking was held today, behind-the-scenes work already has started. Work on the new entrance will be noticeable by the end of the year.

The current ER will remain open throughout construction. “It will not cause any interruptions for our ER patients or staff,” Schnieders said.

As requested by an anonymous donor, the new space will be named the Kenton L. Shaffer Emergency Care Center at CHI Health Good Samaritan. Shaffer, now retired, was a longtime pediatrician who helped build the foundation of Good Samaritan’s NICU. It was the first of its kind in central Nebraska.