"We have a state-of-the-art facility that's second to none in all of Appalachia," said Mike Layfield, ARH Community CEO for Harlan County. "It's patient-focused, meaning patients are very comfortable and so is the family. There's a place for the family to sit and wait and a large outpatient area."
The project is the first in a multi-phase project to construct and renovate outpatient services throughout the hospital. Surgical services are scheduled to begin in the new unit on Tuesday.
"This is more state-of-the-art surgery than we have in any of our hospitals," said Stephen Hanson, ARH President and CEO.
The newly completed center increases the size of the surgical department from 7,000 to 17,000 square feet, including additional surgical suites, a larger waiting room and more recovery beds.
Layfield predicted the new center will help ARH recruit and retain more surgical specialists.
"We will not have to leave this community for surgical services," he said.
State Sen. Daniel Mongiardo, a practicing physician in Hazard, said the new center will have a positive economic impact.
"Something that we've not really thought about is job creation," he said. "It's better for the patients if we keep them home. But it also develops jobs, something that's severely needed in this area.
"We've always looked toward bringing in small manufacturing companies, something that can pay $7 or $8 an hour. But nursing and health care jobs pay much more."
The ARH Board of Trustees approved a $12 million construction and renovation project for Harlan in 2000 as part of the corporation's "Medical Centers of the Mountains" development initiative.
Over the next 12 to 18 months, new laboratory, imaging and emergency service centers will complete the rebuilding project. The Harlan upgrade is one of a series of construction and renovation projects ARH has undertaken in the past two decades.