The last time Tobey Hospital's Emergency Department was upgraded, Ronald Reagan was President of the United States and Bill Cosby was the television ratings king on NBC's The Cosby Show. In other words, it's been a minute since the last time the emergency department has been updated.

Back in 1987, the department was created to accommodate 15,000 patients a year. Tobey's emergency patient load has more than doubled to over 30,000 in recent years; therefore, the plan is to build a facility that will be able to accommodate 40,000 patients moving forward. According to Southcoast Health, the expanded Tobey Hospital Emergency Department will quadruple the facility to 25,000 square feet.

The number of treatment rooms will increase from 15 to 27. Six of the new rooms will be specifically designed to handle substance use disorders and mental health crises.

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Yesterday, employees and supporters of the hospital gathered to commemorate "the next phase" as construction workers laid "into place the last structural steel beam for the new Tobey Emergency Department," said Southcoast Health CEO Keith Hovan.

Employees from different departments in the hospital lined up to take advantage of an opportunity to sign the steel beam, creating a personal connection to the building that could be discovered decades from now when further construction might occur.

Hovan said that the expansion was a significant investment into the Wareham area by Southcoast Health. The design of the department was created to allow potential future expansion to make it a multi-story wing.

For the time being, while the emergency department is being rebuilt, it is operating in what was formerly the labor and delivery/maternity portion of the hospital.

The expanded facility has an anticipated opening of January 2022.

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