Weather causing delays on communication center; completion early 2020

By ANTHONY WARREN,

Despite some weather delays, construction is expected to wrap up early next year on facility that promises to improve medical communications and emergency response across the state.

A groundbreaking for the new Mississippi Center for Emergency Services (MCES) was held in August. Construction on the 20,000-square-foot facility is expected to wrap up in January.

The center is located on property owned by the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) near St. Dominic. Crews can be seen working by motorists driving along the waterworks curve.

“They’re about 10 to 15 days behind because of rain,” said Dr. Damon Darsey, MCES medical director. “They expect to make some of that time up and expect to see vertical part of the building (going up) by mid-summer.”

The 20,000-square-foot facility will serve as a one-stop shop of sorts, with a communications center to coordinate “patient care and transport with emergency response agencies, hospitals and first responders statewide,” as well as facilities for trainings and simulations, according to a UMMC news release.

The services are currently located at different spots on the UMMC campus, Darsey said. “We have outstretched our capacity on the current campus. This building will bring us all together in one spot, (and) also allow us to expand and support Mississippi in other ways.”

Darsey said the center will have space for helicopter and ambulance simulations, as well as facilities for telemedicine companies to test new communications equipment.

The center will also have facilities for lodging and food services, which could accommodate employees during natural disasters.

Currently, UMMC’s dispatch helps provide communication for 2,000 patient transfers each month, making the center one of the nation’s busiest.

The project is being funded with almost $20 million in federal grant..

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