In this Sept. 9, 2016, file photo, Mercy Hospital is seen in Portland. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

Northern Light Mercy Hospital in Portland will open its brand-new emergency department at Fore River Parkway next week.

On Tuesday, 18 rooms in the emergency department will open for patients. The hospital’s president, Charlie Therrien, said this will provide much more flexibility.

For the last 12 to 13 years, Mercy Hospital has been working in two campuses. Therrien said the hospital is glad to provide care under the same roof.

“It’s flow, it’s efficiency, it’s larger rooms because of the need for a lot of larger equipment now,” Therrien said.

The new rooms also will offer a greater sense of privacy, an improvement from the State Street location.

“As opposed to having rooms that may be separated by curtains, they’re now all hard-walled rooms with glass doors,” Therrien said.

There’s also a separate space for ambulance crews to drive onto the campus without mixing with the rest of the traffic.

“They have their own ambulance entrance which is covered to protect patients,” said Alicia Paquette, the emergency department director.

From there, patients will go through the doors right into one of the exam rooms.

“We’ll be able to get patients quickly into the rooms, so they won’t have to stay in the patient lounge waiting,” Therrien said.

All the architecture and engineering work was done before the pandemic, but as construction got underway amid the coronavirus outbreak, they were able to make adjustments.

“We determined we wanted to increase the number of rooms that we would have the ability to have what we call negative air flow,” Therrien said. “We did make some mechanical changes to allow us to make more of our rooms have that best air flow in order to best protect our patients and staff.”

Therrien said the hospital has 24 acres on its property, and if the need arises over the next several years, it could build a new building and expand in patient capabilities.