By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Mercy Hospital, a bedrock serving West Philadelphia, begins its second century of operation with a $15 million expansion project.

Susan Cusack, Executive Director of Mercy Philadelphia Hospital, says the upgrade of the existing emergency department, and expansion of its footprint, will nearly double the department’s size.

“More importantly, this investment will provide the West Philadelphia community greater access to compassionate care,” she said.

The Chair of Emergency Medicine at Mercy, Dr. Tony Mazzeo, says their emergency department has 48,000 visits a year in 14 beds. He says the upgrades will improve the patient experience.

“Not only is it bigger, but we’re expanding and modernizing triage to reduce wait times. We’re moving the C-T scan into the emergency department to reduce wait times. We’re changing our ambulance entrance so that our sickest patients come right into the high acuity area,” Mazzeo explained.

State Senator Anthony Williams, who helped secure a state grant, says the hospital’s name explains its compassionate mission.

“Because many of the folks who come to the emergency room don’t come to the doctor as they should,” he said.

State Representative James Roebuck says Mercy is a gem in the community.

“This hospital provides vital service that no one else does,” he said.