A $61.3 million, 90,000-square-foot expansion at Trinity Rock Island announced this morning is needed to care for a growing number of patients at the hospital campus.

Trinity Regional Health System officials hosted a news conference at the hospital to unveil plans for the three-story project involving its Heart Center and emergency department that will be built at the existing front entrance, pending regulatory approval from the state of Illinois.

In 2011, Trinity officials said, the number of patients diagnosed and cared for at Trinity Rock Island was up 7 percent over the previous year, and another 8 percent increase is projected by 2014.  

The project would be the largest in the history of the facility, formerly known as Franciscan Medical Center.

Trinity Rock Island staff who spoke at the news conference expressed excitement over the planned improvements.

Dr. Kevin Kurth, Trinity’s director of emergency medicine talked about having patients in hallways and cramped rooms.

“I am very proud of the work we do in the emergency department. We have the best-trained staff. They are passionate about their work and love the challenge of comforting and healing patients who need emergency care. However, the lack of space and poor logistics in our current emergency department do not support the high level of care we deliver.”

Dr. Sanjeev Puri, a cardiologist, said the Heart Center “will be like a jewel for care in the Quad-Cities.”

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“Trinity’s heart program continues to achieve national accolades for the quality of its care despite the challenges the heart care team faces due to ever-increasing volumes. We have first-rate care here, but we need facilities to help support its continuance,” Puri added.

And Pauline Carnahan, a nurse in the Trinity cath lab, said of the new facilities, “It will be heaven.”

Over the past 40 years, Trinity, which also has hospitals in Moline, Bettendorf and Muscatine, has consistently kept up to date with changes in medical advances and technology, officials said, but it has made very few capital improvements to the Rock Island hospital building.

Trinity’s board of directors is committed to keeping local dollars in the community by partnering with engineering, architectural, interior design and construction firms from the Quad-Cities on the expansion project, thereby creating local jobs.