The official groundbreaking on a $57 million expansion for Piedmont Fayette Hospital called for a little more fanfare than your typical gold shovel and hardhat photo-op. With hundreds of community members and leaders watching, Piedmont Fayette CEO Michael Burnett rolled in on a front loader tractor to move the soil for the hospital’s largest expansion in years.

The expansion will greatly increase space for the Emergency Department, bringing “much needed relief” to one of the busiest in the Piedmont network of hospitals. Two new floors will be devoted to patient beds to allow for the conversion of existing semi-private rooms to all private rooms throughout the hospital.

The proposed addition of three floors, a $40 million project, had been public for some time. Burnett also announced a recent expansion to the expansion plan, which calls for an additional fourth and fifth floor, bringing the total expanded space to 139,000 square feet and the project cost to $57 million.

“As we break ground today Piedmont healthcare will make a $57 million investment in the community,” Burnett said. “‚ÄúThis expansion helps us serve our population and we are actively recruiting additional physicians, nurses, and other allied health professionals to grow our workforce along with our hospital.”

Burnett recalled growing up in the Fayette County area and the remarkable growth of Piedmont in that time.

Hospital CFO Sheryl Klink noted the hospital had not seen a major expansion in eight years, when the fourth and fifth floors were added.

Board Chairman Wyndham Mortimer recounted the hospital’s growth over the years from a couple hundred employees to nearly 1,500.

“It is our privilege to grow with the needs of our community, and we look forward to an exciting future,” Mortimer said.

According to numbers provided by the hospital, Piedmont Fayette treated 61,187 patients last year in its 30-room emergency department. The number is expected to reach 67,000 by the end of June this year.

The emergency department expansion will add 27 exam rooms, three new trauma rooms, a decontamination area with two isolation rooms, new behavioral health rooms, and 12 observation beds. The ER department will have a total of 57 exam rooms following the expansion.

The construction for the Emergency Department Expansion is expected to be complete by late summer 2016. The second and third floors are expected to be complete by fall 2016. The fourth and fifth floors will be constructed later.

The construction will not impact the entrances to the Emergency Department, Wound Care or the east entrance to the hospital. A temporary ambulance entry will be in use starting July 10.