Ongoing work at the 82,000 square-foot expansion of facilities at Conway Regional Medical System is about to be handed over for equipping by the hospital’s medical specialists.

Just under two years after the $32 million addition and renovation began, Conway Regional will begin to equip additional obstetrics facilities and eight new operating rooms in June.

According to Lori Ross, corporate director of marketing, the first surgery could take place at the add-on in early to mid July.

This has been the largest expansion project in the hospital’s history in terms of monetary investment, a Conway Regional spokesman said.

The capital campaign to fund the investment, ONE Campaign, has raised about $1.7 million of its $2 million goal.

The remainder of the cost will be paid for with "reserves and external financing."

Ross said Monday that the smallest of the new operating rooms "is larger than the largest OR" at the hospital now.

Ross assures that as the hospital handles an ever-growing patient load, services will not be interrupted as equipment is moved to the newer part of the facility.

"The surgery won’t be interrupted and that’s a tremendous timing challenge, one that has taken a lot of planning. There will be a lot of new equipment in those rooms, but some of the existing equipment will be moved over," she said.

Highlights of the new operating facilities include booms that will suspend updated surgical equipment and video technology from the ceiling. Medical personnel be able to prepare a room with ease, said Ross, and to individual standards.

Ross said surgical equipment manufacturers like Dallas-based Stryker, have expressed interest in using the new facilities as a show site.

"This means hospitals from a multi-state region will be coming to Conway, Arkansas to see the latest in OR technology," said Ross.

The size of the rooms will allow the hospital to accommodate 50 percent more patient surgeries over time, according to Conway Regional.

The largest operating room, the one dedicated to cardiovascular care, is 900 square feet.

Total obstetrics rooms will increase from 16 to 24. Eight obstetrics rooms will accommodate the growing birth rate at the hospital’s childbirth center.

Births have increased at Conway Regional from 1,387 to 1,854 since the Women’s Center opened in 2001, a rate of 25 percent.

"This project will address two areas of great importance to our community and physicians — additional space for obstetrics and expanded surgical suites," said Jim Lambert, president and CEO of Conway Regional Health System. "Surgery has changed dramatically in the last 25 years since our current ORs were built...".

The two-story addition will have the capacity to expand to a height of four stories if future needs call for expanded services at the hospital.