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Cape Fear Medical Center To Expand With Patient Tower

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FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Cape Fear Valley Medical Center is undertaking its biggest expansion in history by building a new patient tower to hold 132 additional beds.

The six-story tower is set to open in 2008 and will have its own emergency room, which hospital officials say should help ease traffic in its current emergency room that gets an estimated 100,000 patients each year. It was built to handle about half that.

Currently, Cape Fear is licensed by the state to have 394 beds. On Tuesday, the hospital had 313 adult patients, with the remaining beds for children. Doctors say they usually see a crunch of patients with the onset of flu season, but the flu was not blamed for Tuesday's crowding.

"Lately, it's just been a lot of sick people who take a lot of time in the hospital to get better," said Dr. John Reed, emergency room chief.

Doctors also say a new Express Care center next door to the hospital can free up hospital beds by tending to patients with minor ailments.