Beaufort Memorial Hospital representatives recently unveiled the new name of the facility's emergency room, the George N. Pratt MD and Sarah Meyer Pratt Emergency Center, which the hospital plans to expand next year.
Dr. Bruce Pratt, a retired veterinarian, chose the nameafter contributing $1.5 million last year to the BMH Foundation in honor of his parents, who were involved 65 years ago in the hospital's early development, BMH representatives said Thursday.
"We are overwhelmed by Dr. Pratt's generosity," hospital president and CEO Rick Toomey said. "His commitment to Beaufort Memorial Hospital is remarkable and very rewarding."
The gift will help the hospital complete an approximately $7.5 million expansion of the emergency room, which is now operates beyond capacity, Toomey said.
Hospital officials have selected architects and visited other emergency rooms. They plan to seek renovations bids later this year and hope to start construction in January, Toomey said.
The emergency room will stay open 24 hours a day throughout the renovations, he said.
It's a much-needed expansion that likely will nearly double the emergency room's capacity, said Alice Moss, executive director of the BMH Foundation.
Because there is not much room to physically expand, some administrative offices and employees might be moved to new locations to make room for more clinical areas, Moss said.
There are also some opportunities to build closer to the water, she said, although details have not been finalized.
The new emergency room will demonstrate how much community support can make a difference, Moss said.
"We're just pleased on so many levels to get a gift like Dr. Pratt has given," Moss said.