Hospital officials celebrate a landmark moment in the construction of a $147 million, 400,000-square-foot addition to Bayhealth-Kent General Hospital in Dover.

Workers at the sprawling construction site on the north side of Bayhealth-Kent General Hospital in Dover placed the last piece of structural steel atop what will be a new emergency room and cancer center July 22, marking an important benchmark for the $147 million project.

To signify the “topping off” of the building, ironworkers hanging from the four-story structure mounted a final steel beam bearing the signatures of workers on the site and hospital staff.

The 400,000-square-foot expansion is slated for completion by the end of 2011 and includes a new 375-space parking garage located on South Governors Avenue.

At a ceremony marking the completion of the project’s superstructure, hospital officials said the addition represents continuing progress for the institution.

“Today marks the beginning off a new chapter, a new era of caring for our families,” said John Paradee, vice-chair of the hospital’s board of directors.

Bayhealth CEO Terry Murphy said the facility will be an asset to the region.

“It’s something the community has needed and it’s something we can all be proud of,” he said.

Work on the interior of the structure is underway and much of the parking garage is already complete, Murphy said.

When finished, the addition will feature a Welcome Pavilion designed to put patients and families at ease as they enter the hospital.

At the north end of the site will be a new utility building, housing central receiving and distribution facilities, as well as all the hospital’s electrical and ventilation equipment.

In the section closest to the existing building, there will be space for a new integrated cancer treatment center that will make it easier for patients with cancer diagnoses to receive care.

Currently, some of the hospital’s cancer treatment staff work out of a facility on nearby Queen Street, which can be inconvenient for patients who also need care at the hospital, Murphy said.

The new cancer center, affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Cancer Network, will offer radiation therapy on the first floor, and chemotherapy and other cancer treatments on the second floor.

In addition to the improved cancer treatment space, the expansion also includes significant upgrades to the hospital’s emergency room facilities.

Director of Emergency and Trauma Services Patricia Fuller said the new ER will greatly improve patient care.

“We are very excited. In our Kent ER, we have exceeded capacity,” she said. “This will give us the room and space we need.”

With the expansion, space in the ER will double, Fuller said, which will make it easier for doctors and nurses to see more patients and drive down wait times.

All the new facilities, including the new garage, will be connected, making it easy for patients to come and go quickly and comfortably.

“This will be a phenomenal facility,” Murphy said. “Patients will be able to have access to parking and be able to access the main entrance and welcome center.”

Email Doug Denison at