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      What are the expansion plans for Marquette General?

      Seven months ago, Marquette General Hospital was officially acquired by Duke LifePoint Healthcare. Now the hospital is finalizing short and long term plans for upgrading their facilities.

      A major expansion was announced Monday night at the Marquette City Commission meeting. The project will include new construction and renovation work.

      MGH plans to spend $300 million over the next ten years. That money is from the sale of the hospital to Duke LifePoint.

      MGH CEO Gary Muller said the focus of the expansion is on the patients.

      "The focus we have actually is to make the patient experience the best anywhere, and you do that by looking at their needs, looking at what they would like in the new facility, what the service level they would like," Muller said.

      Hospital patients will be involved in focus groups to determine more of what will be included in the upgrades. There will also be a chance for MGH employees and other community members to give their ideas for the project.

      In the next few weeks, new paint, carpet and other aesthetic improvements will be added to the existing facilities. The hospital is calling this an overall cosmetic facelift for the buildings.

      Later this calendar year, construction work will begin in the empty area beneath the West Building Emergency Department. This will be the Ambulatory Surgery Center, an 18,000 square-foot area. It is currently being used as storage space.

      Four stories will be added to the top of the West Building to house the NICU and family birthing unit. Also, 60 private patient rooms will be added there.

      A new medical office structure will be built at the corner of Magnetic and Seventh, connected to a new parking ramp. This will house MGH employed physicians as well as some other patient services. Some physicians will be moved there from the Upper Peninsula Medical Center. That facility will be used for non-clinical departments and services.

      Plans also include a new, unified cancer center in the 1984 Building and new patient rooms in the 1981 Building. MGH said they will hire as many local contractors as possible for all of the construction work.

      Muller said staff expansion will begin this year.

      "We've got plans to hire 52 new physicians in 2013, and then another 32 new physicians in 2014, including all specialties that we have now," he said.

      Muller added the hospital will have more emphasis on primary care, which is the direction of the entire health care industry.

      The expansion is welcomed by the City of Marquette, said mayor Johnny DePetro.

      "(Duke LifePoint is) going to move everything at Marquette General into the 21st century," he said. "They're going to be very aggressive, so we're going to see a lot of benefits from that through the tax roll."

      DePetro said city residents should be excited about the changes Duke LifePoint is bringing.

      "Duke LifePoint, they're getting all their ducks in a row. Sure, there's always a lot of concerns and there's thoughts and comments, but they'll be fine for the community," he said. "They'll be very good for the whole Upper Peninsula, and we look forward to working with them hand in hand right through all of their process."

      Many other improvements, additions and even some demolition of existing structures are on the drawing board. The hospital will release specific timetables and costs in the coming months.