The University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital's new emergency room opened at 5 a.m. Wednesday, the first step in the progressive opening of the $532 million hospital tower that is expected to be finished in the next six years.
Part of the new sky bridge over Limestone that connects the hospital with the parking garage also opened.
The emergency room, which received its first trickle of patients Wednesday, has separate entrances for pediatric and adult patients and walls filled with Kentucky art.
In emergency room medicine, business picks up starting in the late morning and continues at a brisk clip until around midnight, said Penne Allison, director of emergency and trauma services.
"It's more than just a trauma center," said Roger Humphries, medical director of the emergency department, adding that the center could care for patients with any type of emergencies. The emergency room also includes a "chair room," a cluster of semi-private chairs where patients with less serious injuries or illnesses can be treated.
As of the opening, a few patients were still being treated at the old emergency room, but all new emergency patients were being directed to the new facility, which includes state-of-the-art trauma bays, advanced radiology and a hallway blood bank.
UK is anticipating an uptick of 8 percent to 10 percent in emergency business with the new facility's opening.