NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Cooley Dickinson Hospital has received a $250,000 donation from Smith College which will be used to expand and renovate its Emergency Department.

Renovations of the Cooley Dickinson Emergency Room are expected to begin this spring. The expansion will cost roughly $19.6 million and the hospital has already collected $6.4 million through fundraising efforts.

“Equitable access to health care is an essential component of vibrant communities. We are proud to contribute to Cooley Dickinson, which has long offered important support to our students, faculty and staff, as they expand their Emergency Department and create a specialized healing environment to manage the mental health concerns prevalent in today’s society, and especially on college campuses,” stated Kathleen McCartney, President of Smith College.

“We are honored and extremely thankful to Smith College for their extraordinary gift of support,” Lynnette Watkins, MD, MBA, President and COO of Cooley Dickinson, said. “For many years, Smith College and Cooley Dickinson Hospital have had a strong partnership; this gift furthers our shared commitment to create a healthy community. Most importantly, their commitment recognizes the importance of providing Smith College students, faculty and their family and friends with access to the region’s top providers and leading health care services.”

Cooley Dickinson states they are expected to serve more than 40,000 patients through their emergency department alone this year. Their current emergency room was designed to serve 17,000 patients annually and is currently 40 percent undersized.

The two-year project will add 7,500 square feet of space, including nine new patient rooms, two behavioral health beds and a family waiting room.

“Our priority is to improve the care for those seeking emergency treatment.  Patients will see a nurse when they arrive. Patients will be treated in single patient rooms that allow for privacy. A nurses’ station in the center of the department means they can respond better to patient needs.  Overall, this is about making the Emergency Department as efficient and up to date as possible to enable our talented providers to take the best possible care of their patients,” said Diane Dukette from Cooley Dickinson.

The expansion of their emergency department will also provide additional beds for people experiencing mental health emergencies.