Officials at Saint John Hospital had two reasons to celebrate Friday.

Officials at Saint John Hospital had two reasons to celebrate Friday.

The Leavenworth hospital is celebrating its 150th anniversary. But, Friday also marked a kickoff for the construction of a new emergency room.

"It's been needed for quite some time," Randy Nyp said of the new emergency room.

Nyp is the president and chief executive officer of Saint John Hospital and Providence Medical Center.

The new emergency room will be constructed at the Saint John Medical Plaza building, which is located east of Saint John's main hospital building.

Plans for the new ER were unveiled Friday during a ceremony at Saint John Medical Plaza.

Nyp said it would have been difficult to try to improve the existing ER at the main hospital building.

He said one of the goals for the new ER is to improve visibility and access for patients.

The new emergency room will located closer to Fourth Street.

Another goal is to improve patient privacy. Nyp said the new ER facility will include private rooms. Beds at the current ER are separated by curtains.

The new ER also will be equipped with a trauma room.

"We've never had a trauma room that I know of," Nyp said.

He said hospital officials also have a goal of improving ambulance access.

He said the ER will be equipped with new diagnostic imaging equipment which will address one of the other goals.

Nyp said the project will cost $4 million.

"So that's a very large investment we're making in the Leavenworth community," he said.

Officials hope to have the construction completed in the fall.

Friday's ceremony was part of what is planned as a yearlong celebration of the hospital's 150 anniversary.

Kathleen Conwell, marketing and public relations director for Saint John and Providence, said the ribbon cutting for the new emergency is planned for November at the end of the anniversary celebration. The ribbon cutting also will coincide with Founder's Day at Saint John.

California-based Prime Healthcare Services purchased Saint John Hospital last year from the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Health System.

Jodi Fincher, chief nursing officer and onsite administrator at Saint John, said the hospital's new leadership is determined to continue the tradition of Saint John.

James Summersett III, regional chief executive officer for Prime Healthcare Services, said "very few hospitals in the country have been in operation for 150 years."

He said Saint John is among the smallest hospitals owned by Prime Healthcare Services but "great things come from small beginnings."

"We believe that Saint John adds value to this community," he said.

He said the hospital's best days are still ahead.