Mercy Director Jeni Hallatt said crews are in the midst of constructing the hospital's parking lot. The main patient tower and new in-patient rooms should be complete within the next year.

"A majority of the work has been on the foundation," Hallatt said. "We do have walls going up. One of the main changes from a layout standpoint was the parking lot on the south side."

The hospital, at the intersection of highways 50 and 67 just outside of Williams Bay, broke ground in June on its multimillion-dollar renovation, which should be complete by 2013.

The 60,000-square-foot facility will be expanded to 200,000 square feet, and its in-patient space is growing from six to 25 beds. Hallatt said the facility often is full, forcing it to send local patients to the Janesville location.

The hospital also is gaining a sleep disorders lab, cafeteria, chapel and clinic space. When the project is complete, it's expected to add about 70 full-time jobs including 10 physicians, which will be a combination of new hires and transfers from other hospitals, Hallatt said.

Because the hospital maintains the same services while construction is underway, Hallatt said programs are in place to minimize disruption.

"We've really been trying to assist patients as much as possible," she said. "A lot of movement and trucks can be overwhelming and they (wonder) where they can park. We have valet and shuttle services so they don't have to worry at all."

Hallatt said another program uses volunteers to help patients find their way around the building. She's received interest from many people in the county, but she has additional roles to fill and is searching for more support.

Mercy Health System treated about 1.2 million patients in 2009. The system consists of 64 facilities in 24 communities throughout Wisconsin and Illinois. It employs about 4,000 people.

Mercy operates two hospitals in addition to its Walworth County location. It has a 240-bed acute care facility in Janesville and a 70-bed combined hospital in Harvard, Ill.

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