On Thursday afternoon Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber came a little closer to having a new emergency room. State Rep. Frank Burns, D-East Taylor Township, presented a check for $500,000 to Barbara Cliff, president/CEO of Windber Medical Center. “This money will fund improvements to the facility and enhance the quality of care for its patients,” Burns said in a prepared release. The funding will support the hospital’s emergency room expansion project, which is expected to ease the growing pressure of increased demand for emergency care. The emergency room is designed to care for 5,000 patients, but currently treats two to three times more patients per year. Burns said at the presentation that several months ago he met with hospital officials to talk about the expansion project. After the meeting, he was given a tour of the hospital and was told of the need they were having with the emergency room expansion project. “They told me what they wanted the money for, what they were going to do with it and that they already had it in the works,” he said. Burns said losing his father made him realize how important health care is. “In the past two weeks, I’ve realized how important health care is,” he said. “It has really changed my opinion on many things. I know that every second counts and to have an emergency room that is state of the art and top of the line will no doubt save peoples’ lives.” Cliff said in accepting the check that she felt it was “an honor to work with Rep. Burns because he believes in the work being done at Windber Medical Center.” She said the hospital was considered a good candidate to receive the money because “we do having matching funds and it will create jobs, but most of all it will enable us to better serve the needs of the people of the community.” Hospital Chief Operating Officer Holly Rigby said the emergency room expansion is not the only large project in the works at Windber Medical Center. Plans are being made to start the expansion of the hospital’s nursery after the first of the year. “This $500,000 will be used toward the emergency room,” she said. “We have community funds and some other grant money that we have received already that will help with the nursery expansion. We are just right now in the midst in deciding who will be the construction company to work with us. We have all the bids, so by January we will have the name of the construction company to start work on the nursery.” There will be no physical addition to the building for the nursery. “It is just a matter of moving things around, which will take us three or four months,” she said. After the nursery is completed, work will begin on the new emergency room. Rigby said the board has not decided where the new emergency room will be built, but she feels wherever it is located it will add to the growth of the hospital. She estimated that within two years both projects will be completed.