Dr. Kevin Kurth laughs a bit as he explains the close quarters in the emergency department at Trinity Rock Island, an area that will be part of a $61.3 million construction project that was formally announced Thursday.

“Rooms are separated by curtains. Multiple beds are located in smaller rooms. And we use what used to be hallways for other beds when we have an overflow,” said Kurth, the director of emergency medicine for Trinity Regional Health System. He spoke to about 100 people gathered for a news conference to discuss the first major renovation in 40 years at Trinity Rock Island, formerly Franciscan Medical Center.

The proposed 90,000-square-foot, three-story expansion to be built at the front of the existing hospital was introduced with plans and schematic drawings. The project must receive regulatory approval from the state, and the Illinois Facilities and Planning Review Board is expected to take it up March 26. If approval is received, Trinity will break ground in June, with construction scheduled to finish by the summer of 2015.

“We have waited as long as we can to upgrade and modernize our hospital,” said Rick Seidler, Trinity’s president and CEO. He added that the need is critical, pointing to emergency medicine, cardiac treatment and psychiatric crisis service areas all stretched beyond capacity.

Dr. Sanjeev Puri, a cardiologist, said the Heart Center’s treatment spaces are cramped, and “doctors leap over wires and work around beds” to care for patients. Puri, who is on the staff at Trinity and with Cardiovascular Medicine P.C. — Illinois, added that the new center “will be like a jewel in the Quad-Cities for care.”

In 2011, Trinity diagnosed and cared for 35,676 patients in the emergency department at Trinity Rock Island, a 7 percent increase over 2010. An

8 percent increase is projected for 2014.

Kurth compared the current emergency department to an octopus, with hallways like arms radiating out from a central area. Over the years, those hallways have included beds for high-use times, and places such as a former lobby have been refurbished into “safe rooms” for psychiatric care patients.

About 40 percent of the emergency department patients have accompanying psychiatric needs, Kurth said, so the new facility will have a “crisis stabilization unit” as well as better access to the adjacent Robert Young Center for Community Mental Health.

Trinity Rock Island is seeing more behavioral health patients since Illinois has closed some state psychiatric facilities, Kurth added.

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The cardiac component of the project will accommodate increased volumes and better coordinate heart care under one roof. Trinity’s surgeons performed more than 5,000 procedures in 2012, Puri said. The hospital has three cardiac catheterization laboratories, or cath labs, that regularly operate at 80 to 90 percent of capacity. An additional cath lab is included in the new facility.

Further, the new addition will include a room for a computerized tomography, or CT, scanner in the emergency department. Kurth said that 60 percent of the hospital’s CT scans originate in the ER, but the nearest scanner is located a substantial distance away.

Seidler said the project size and cost will be among the highest in many years at the Rock Island hospital campus. He added that the project has been discussed for quite some time. It once was thought that the added space could be built in back of the current hospital, but that is not a usable space for construction because of ravines there.

Nurses at Trinity Rock Island are excited about the new development. Pauline Carnahan, a radiological technician in the cath labs, said her work can be dangerous at times while having to step around and over wires in the cramped rooms. The new labs will have 5-foot-wide pathways in the work area, twice as much space as at present.

“This will be heaven,” Carnahan said.