Roane General Hospital is planning an $l8 million expansion and renovation project of their facilities in Spencer, according to the Times Record/Roane County Reporter.

"We think this will be a total solution for the next 20 to 25 years for health care in Roane County," Doug Bentz, the hospital's CEO said.

Bentz announced the project during a meeting of the Roane Economic Development Authority at First Neighborhood Bank. He said the RGH board was set to take preliminary steps committing to the project during its meeting this week.

The work would add 35,000 square feet and renovate an existing 30,000 square feet. Part of the project would create a greatly expanded fitness area as well as more space for physical therapy, including an indoor pool large enough for water aerobics classes as well as therapy. The addition of speech and occupational therapy services is planned as well.

The new construction would also feature a café, according to Bentz, that would feature a selection of coffee, juice and healthy food choices including salads.

"We want to create a culture of health and wellness," he explained. The renovations would upgrade emergency room and clinic spaces. "This will double or triple the size of the ER," Bentz said, "and we're now out of clinic space. The new square footage will allow us to have our primary care and specialty doctors in one area."

Bentz said the hospital would like to add more specialty physicians once the project is complete. The goal is to focus on outpatient care and bring more of the market share to RGH.

"One out of every five dollars spent is for health care," he noted. "Why not keep more of that in the county?"

Bentz said no grant money would be used for the project. Funding will come largely from a loan, with a community drive for funds expected to top $1 million. "If things go as planned," Bentz told the other EDA members, "We hope to be able to break ground in October."

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