Simi Valley Hospital, part of the Adventist Health system, plans to break ground in the coming months on a $41 million expansion project that will include a much larger emergency department, the first cardiac catherization lab in the community and expanded surgery services. Hospital officials say the Emergency Services and Hospital Expansion project will double the number of beds in the emergency room to 20 and add 5,500 square feet. The project is mostly funded by Adventist Health, which also operates Glendale Adventist Medical Center and 16 other hospitals, with $3 million coming from the hospital’s charitable foundation. Included in the project is a new home for the hospital’s gastrointestinal services, and a remodel of the Aspen Center, which includes outpatient imaging services, the Aspen Surgery Center and the Nancy Reagan Breast Center. “Our hospital is running out of space and the investment is needed to continue our commitment of providing exceptional services and quality health care for our patients and the growing community,” said President and CEO Darwin Remboldt. Hospitals are carefully choosing which services are important to expand, retrench or eliminate amid a climate of government cutbacks in both Medicare and Medi-Cal. Simi Valley’s expansion speaks to the importance of services such as an expanded ER, through which new patients are brought in, and surgery, which is typically a net revenue generator, said Jan Emerson-Shea, vice president of external affairs for the California Hospital Association. The largest component of the Simi Valley Hospital project, to be completed by 2013, is the emergency room renovation. With more than 25,000 patients a year, the original ED with just 10 beds was unable to meet the growing needs of the community, Remboldt said. The expanded facility will have larger, private rooms and examination areas. In addition, the hospital is adding an isolation room and decontamination showers and a bereavement room for grief counseling. In addition to accommodating more patients from the community, the hospital’s ED program is implementing a new Fast Track program in which a dedicated nurse will tend to patients with minor emergencies such as cuts and bruises. The goal of this program is to allow the hospital to treat and release patients with minor injuries faster, leaving more beds available for serious cases. The hospital also is adding a cardiac catherization lab, an investigative procedure to detect the cause of heart ailments or to quantify the severity of heart disease. A number of Valley area hospitals have recently added cardiac cath labs, including Antelope Valley Hospital and West Hills Hospital & Medical Center. The cardiac cath lab is becoming an integral part of cardiac care. This will be the Simi Valley area’s first such lab, according to the hospital. The hospital is also expanding and renovating its surgery services and remodeling the Aspen Center, which includes outpatient imaging services. Larger surgical suites with increasingly sophisticated equipment are seen as a way to attract more physicians to hospitals. The idea is that these doctors will then bring more patients and increase the volume of surgery and overall business. “The expanded surgical suites should provide for more space for our medical experts to perform more complex surgeries, thereby better serving patients,” Remboldt said. He added that the hospital will be better able to serve the community with an expanded range of surgical procedures available locally.