After a year of construction, patients and visitors at Johnson Memorial Hospital now can use a new entrance and expanded parking lot.

And in the next few weeks, after inspections, equipment installation and electrical work are finished, visitors will be able to dine in a new restaurant and new landscaping will be added around a new pond on the property.

Johnson Memorial Hospital is wrapping up a yearlong, $9 million construction overhaul that expanded and remodeled their cafeteria, moved and updated the main entrance with wood and metal paneling and demolished an older building addition. The goal was to update the hospital’s look and improve patient experience by adding walking trails, more parking spots and renovating parts of the building.

Story continues below gallery

Another goal of the project was to improve drainage on the property. The emergency department was elevated to avoid future flooding after about 6 inches of water filled the emergency room and other neighboring rooms during the 2008 flood in Johnson County, and a new retention pond was created to hold excess storm water.

The construction project was funded through savings the hospital had accumulated over the years, Heydon said. No loans were needed to fund the project, he said.

Construction began at the beginning of the year, and was slated to be done by late November. Weather delays pushed the completion back about a month, hospital chief executive officer Larry Heydon said.

“We’re pretty confident that we’ll see the contractors leave our sight before Christmas,” Heydon said.

Once the final few weeks of construction are complete, the hospital should be easier to navigate for patients and visitors, officials said.

The emergency department and main entrance of the hospital have been separated, and parking lots have been reconfigured. The main entrance has been moved to an office building, with a new walkway, large signs and a covered driveway to make it stand out as the major entryway into the hospital. In the past, visitors often confused the emergency area with the main entrance since they were next door to each other, Heydon said.

A portion of the 1101 Professional Office Building, a 36-year-old addition that housed business and physician’s offices, was demolished in September to make room for the pond and walking trails for employees and residents to use. The rest of the professional office building is still being used, said Steve Wohlford, the hospital’s chief operating officer.

More parking spaces were added over the past six months, including six new outpatient drop-off spaces since about 80 percent of the hospital’s patients come in for outpatient services, Heydon said. A helipad was moved to the west side of the hospital so more parking spots could be added.

“From a patient’s perspective, it’ll be closer to the main entrance,” Wohlford said. “It’ll be safer for our guests and they’ll notice that there’s an abundance of parking on Jefferson Street.”

If visitors are stopping by the hospital to see a patient, they can eat at a remodeled and expanded cafeteria near the main entrance of the hospital. Instead of walking through a serving line, diners can select food from various cooking stations, such as a salad bar, stir-fry and grill station, Heydon said. The hospital is hiring servers and chefs, Heydon said.

The restaurant, which will be open to the public, is replacing the existing kitchen that has been in use since 1947.

The new restaurant is not open yet.

Kitchen cabinets and a sprinkler system are being installed this month, and cafeteria flooring was just installed within the last week, Wohlford said. Final inspections from the fire marshal and health department have not been completed, but should be done within the next month, Wohlford said.

The restaurant can’t open until those inspections are done, and officials hope to be able to open by the end of the month or early next month, said Casey DeArmitt, hospital spokeswoman.

About the projects

Here’s a look at Johnson Memorial Hospital’s construction project:

1101 Professional Office Building

A portion of the 1101 Professional Office Building, an addition originally built in 1979, was demolished in September. The empty space was turned into a retention pond and walking trails around the water. The remaining professional office building is still being used by the hospital for office space.

Cafeteria/Willow Cafe

The cafeteria was moved closer to the center of the hospital, near the revamped main entrance, so employees and visitors from either side of the hospital have easier access to it. The new cafeteria includes service stations, such as a salad bar, stir-fry and grill areas.

Front Entrance Corridor

The main hospital corridor and emergency department were separated so it is easier to distinguish between the two entrances. Parking spaces were reconfigured and new spots for visitors dropping off people for outpatient services were created near the main entrance.