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A crowd watches the groundbreaking ceremony for the $ 31 million emergency department expansion at Akron Mahoning Valley Children’s Hospital in Boardman on Wednesday. The project is expected to last 12 to 15 months.

BOARDMAN – The emergency department at Akron Mahoning Valley Children’s Hospital opened in 2008 with the capacity to treat 80 patients in a single day. It is now averaging 125 to 135 patients per day, and at its peak the number increased to 200.

That’s really all the proof that was needed to expand the facility, which Akron Children’s is doing with a $ 31 million investment in what will be a brand new emergency department on the Beeghly campus on Market Street.

“We’re not just building an extension to the emergency room. We are actually tripling the size and creating a whole new facility for (Mahoning) Valley patients, ”said Paul Olivier, vice president of Akron Mahoning Valley Enterprises Children’s Hospital.

On Wednesday, the floor of the new space was solemnly broken. The project is expected to last 12 to 15 months.

BUILDING

The new space will increase the number of treatment rooms from 17 to 23 and add 34,700 square feet to the existing 9,600 square foot emergency department. In addition, each treatment room will be larger than what already exists.

In addition, the number of behavioral health treatment rooms will increase from two to three, and the number of triage rooms will be reduced from one to two. The building will also have two dedicated resuscitation rooms, one more than today.

Behavioral health rooms will be multi-purpose rooms depending on the needs of the department, said Dr. Mary Costello, clinical director of the emergency department at Boardman Hospital.

“They’ll be able to adapt as the emergency department sees fit, from medical patients to behavioral health depending on the demands of the day, and I think that’s essential,” Costello said. “Every day is different in the emergency room and I like to adapt to our environment.

As usual with construction projects at Akron Children’s, the emergency department was simulated with cardboard using the dimensions on the plan. Walls, front doors, cabinets, sinks and more have been moved around the model to determine to best meet the needs of the department.

“Ultimately, this was all done to provide a more efficient space to care for our patients and their families,” said Costello.

DONATIONS

Several donors have supported the project with donations of $ 100,000 or more. Among them was Lenny Fisher, chairman of the board of directors of Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream, based in Mahoning County, who donated $ 1 million for the project.

In recognition of his donation, Akron Children named Building A on campus the Leonard J. Fisher Family Building.

“I’m lucky enough in my life, I succeeded, I worked hard. If you can’t give, you can’t share, what’s the point of having it? I’m not the type to need five cars, five houses and have my own yacht. You give back to the community, and the community gives back to you. We succeed because of the community.

Over the years, including Fisher’s $ 1 million donation, Handel’s has raised $ 1.6 million for Akron Children’s.

Fisher said he partnered with Akron Children’s after Tod’s Children’s Hospital closed. His family’s association with Tod Children’s began after his son, Joshua Abraham Fisher, was born in 1982 at the Old Northside Hospital with gastroschisis, a birth defect where a child is born with his intestines outside his body.

“So from that point on, we partnered up with Tod’s. We also used to fundraise for Tod’s. We did that for years until they closed and then Akron was born in 2008, I said we had to line up with another children’s hospital, ”Fisher said.

Others who have donated at least $ 100,000 are Farmers National Bank, Florence Simon Beecher Foundation, Cafaro Foundation, Moran Family / Window World of Youngstown, Youngstown Foundation and Jenny Kennedy.

PERSONAL STORY

Joni Ehrhart of New Middletown, a mother of three, has called her family “frequent ER travelers,” having been in the emergency department over the years with respiratory illnesses, broken bones and concussions.

It was in February when her daughter Avery, 5, injured her back in a trampoline park. X-rays taken in Boardman’s emergency department revealed the girl had two fractures to her lower back. They also revealed something unknown – that Avery had a defect in his spine, Ehrhart said.

“Now, due to the findings from emergencies, we go once a year for an x-ray to make sure she is growing properly and has no issues,” Ehrhart said. “I can’t say thank you enough for the emergency and all of its wonderful people and for helping my daughter. We found a flaw that we would never have known. We could have had problems, and now we can take good care of her.

Community investment

Below are donors who have given more than $ 100,000 to help fund a $ 31 million emergency department expansion at Akron Mahoning Valley Children’s Hospital in Boardman. They are:

• Lenny Fisher

• National Farmers Bank

• Florence Simon Beecher Foundation

• Cafaro Foundation

• Moran family / Window World of Youngstown

• Youngstown Foundation

• Jenny Kennedy

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