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Capital Region Medical Center is investing $20 million in a new outpatient surgery center in Jefferson City.

The 24,000-square-foot center, including four surgical rooms, is to be built in space currently used for parking under the 5-year-old physicians' office building of CRMC.

The new center will include four full-service operating suites, two endoscopy suites, advanced imaging capabilities and space for future growth, CRMC President Gaspare Calvaruso said during a news conference Wednesday.

"This nearly $20 million investment into the health of our community demonstrates our vision for the future of health care delivery," Calvaruso said.

The hospital will lose 60 parking spaces below the office building, but has already broken ground on a new parking lot north of the building that will contain 82 spaces.

The design of the physicians' office building provided careful consideration for the future growth of the hospital, he said.

"A team of architects and engineers, along with our clinicians and physicians, are thoughtfully crafting and designing a space to meet and exceed patient expectations at every step in their care," Calvaruso said. "This outpatient surgery center will be outfitted with the latest technology."

CRMC expects to break ground on the new center this coming spring and intends to complete the project in 2022, according to CRMC Board of Directors Chairman Marc Ellinger.

All pre- and post-procedure rooms are to be private and designed with a patient-centered approach, according to a CRMC news release.

The hospital's board has regularly discussed the need to expand surgical capacity within the organization. Despite having an opportunity to expand on in-patient services, a greater benefit to the community would be expanding outpatient services, Calvaruso said.

"The inspiration for this really was — we were out of room," he said. "It's a good problem to have. We've been very effective recruiting surgeons to the area and providing different services for our community."

There have been pressures within the existing operating room space to expand, he said.

An initial thought was to expand within the walls of the hospital, but conversations led to the decision to use the space intended for future growth beneath the outpatient building.

It's conveniently located for patients and for physicians.

It provides the ability for patients to find all the resources they need on a single campus.

The outpatient surgery center should enhance services clinics provide, Calvaruso said.

"It provides convenient care. Especially for those one-day type of surgeries, it enhances what people are looking for," he said.

Diane Light, a general surgeon at the hospital, said surgical staff see more and more procedures taking place in an outpatient setting that they never thought years ago could be done without hospital stays.

"That has changed the challenges for us in the health care delivery system — to give a place where these procedures can take place safely and conveniently for families, and for the patients themselves," Light said. "I always feel like Capital Region tries to do the right thing for the community at the right time."

The hospital has, for a long time, had a vision of what is good for Jefferson City and the surrounding communities, she said.

The expansion represents exceptional investment in the community, she said — bringing new jobs, a convenient place for necessary care and access to state-of-the-art equipment, which delivers that care, Light said.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to challenge health care workers. But the hospital is taking steps to provide necessary health care during and after the pandemic.

A community hospital has an obligation to look forward to the future, Ellinger said.

"One component of that future is delivering safe, affordable and accessible care to everybody in the Central Missouri community," he said. "That's really what this expansion is. The surgery center really is an opportunity to give more successful care to all folks in the Mid-Missouri area."

CRMC has had a relationship with MU Health Care for about 24 years, said Jonathan Curtright, chief executive officer of MU Health Care. Curtright also serves on the CRMC board.

MU Health Care would rather people get outpatient treatments or surgeries done "right here in Jefferson City," Curtright said.

"Cap Region already has a pretty solid catchment area, in the ballpark of around eight counties," Curtright said. "It's going to make it so patients don't have to go to St. Louis, don't have to go to Kansas City. They can get their care here. If they need advanced sub-specialty services, whenever possible, we can provide them in Columbia as well."

This article was updated at 1:10 p.m. Nov. 18, 2020, with additional details.

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