Emergency center has little effect on Ag North building

By Shannon Frazer

Since the new UK Chandler Hospital Emergency Department opened July 14, continued construction has generated some minor challenges to the South Limestone region of campus.

The Agricultural Science Center North building, located near the intersection of South Limestone and Cooper Drive, is adjacent to the emergency department, but it has faced few negative effects throughout the hospital renovation process.

UK College of Agriculture Dean Scott Smith said with the completion of the emergency department, the impact to Ag North has improved and been minimal overall.

“Things have gotten a lot better,” Smith said. “Construction would cause sidewalks to be closed sometimes, but we have worked with the hospital, making sure everything is safe (for students and staff).”

Larry Jones, associate dean for academic programs in the UK College of Agriculture, agreed.

“There hasn’t been much traffic and (ambulances) turn sirens off (before entering the emergency department),” Jones said.

“Also, the amount of traffic, pedestrian- and automobile-wise, has been surprisingly light.”

Sidewalk closures have sparked more complaints than traffic, Jones said.

Lisa Cox, College of Agriculture scholarship program coordinator, agreed that sidewalks were a major concern in the spring.

“One of the disruptions was sidewalks were closed,” Cox said. “This caused safety hazards to students. It was a little unnerving along Limestone. But now disruptions are limited, and we have wider sidewalks.”

Cox, whose Ag North office is located close to the construction, said noise was another problem last spring but has greatly decreased since the emergency department has opened.

“When they originally started blasting, the building would shake,” Cox said. “What was most disruptive was when they had to jackhammer. Students couldn’t take finals (because of the noise), and in the basement the blasting was really loud. Everyone has been pleasantly surprised about the low level of noise now.”

Construction has also impacted parking around the Ag North building.

“The emergency department staff takes the circle parking spaces outside of Ag North,” Jones said. “That’s not new, but since the hospital (emergency department) opened those 15 to 20 spots have always been taken.”

According to a July 12 UK HealthCare news release, the emergency department is part of the first phase of UK HealthCare’s $760 million expansion project.

“In 2011, the first two floors of a new 12-story patient care facility also will be completed,” according to the news release.

Smith was optimistic that the student and faculty challenges would remain manageable as the first phase of the new UK Chandler Hospital is scheduled for completion in 2011.

He said the College of Agriculture has worked to ease accessibility to agriculture buildings during construction, including providing a bus transportation service. Smith hopes to continue this service throughout the duration of the construction.

“We’ll have to adapt. Everyone will have to adapt,” Smith said.