The dust has hardly settled for the construction of North County Boulevard south of 300 North in American Fork, and a new construction project has already begun.

Workers are doing site work for an expansion of American Fork Hospital at 170 N. 1100 East. The expansion will be more than 75,000 square feet on two floors, and include surgical services and a future emergency department.

"We currently have six operating rooms and we will be increasing that capacity," Scott Mortensen, assistant administrator of the hospital, said. "There will also be other support services including pre- and post-op areas and a post-anesthesia care unit, along with central processing which cleans and sterilizes equipment."

He said the growth in the north county area has necessitated the project.

"It's to a point where the size of each operating room needs to be expanded and the overall capacity needs to expand," he said. "It shows that we understand that our community is growing and has more acute needs. We're providing that to the community."

There are steps that must be taken before that stage, however.

"From now until mid-November we will be completing the site development portions of the project," Mortensen said. "We will be replacing parking or adding parking and roads to meet the needs for the future expansion that we will be doing." The expansion won't take place until spring of next year. "It's about an 18- to 20-month process. We expect it will be completed sometime in mid-2014."

The expansion is slated to be built on the south side of the building.

"It will tie into the emergency and imaging departments," Mortensen said.

The additional roads Mortensen mentioned will come in stages. There is a road on the south side of the hospital that will be removed to make room for the addition.

"We will put in a road farther south to access the hospital," Mortensen said. "We will still have our main entrance and the northernmost entrance."

The plan is to have the groundwork done before the building construction begins.

"There will be growing pains," Mortensen said. "There will be a lot of dirt moving. This fall we are doing our best to put infrastructure in place for public and employees to have things the same or better. During construction we will have more parking than we have ever had. We are replacing some and adding some."

Before Intermountain Healthcare received approval from the city for the project, there was concern about sufficient access to the facility. Intermountain staffers and city personnel identified a future road network in the area that will permit additional access to the hospital.

The changes on the ground will necessitate moving the helipad, which is used for medical transfers. Plans are for it to be moved closer to the street than it has been. Mayor J.H. Hadfield questioned whether that was a good move to place it next to a busy five-lane road.

Administrator Mike Olson said it was adequate.

"We are following the FAA requirements for the flight path," he said. "The hospital is not a major destination for trauma."

The location chosen is important, he said.

"It is essential to keep it close to the new emergency room," Olson said. When Hadfield expressed a concern about children coming too close to the helicopter, Olson responded.

"There is protection all around the helipad," Olson said.

American Fork Hospital opened its doors as a 55-bed facility on 1100 East in 1981. Prior to that it was located at 350 E. 300 North. The city first ran it, but sold the facility to Intermountain Healthcare in 1978.

American Fork Hospital was initially located in the American Fork Co-op building at 51 E. Main St. Patients and visitors had to scale 33 steps to reach the second floor entrance. The hospital moved to its 300 North location in 1950.

At the current location, a two-year expansion project was completed in 2002. That increased the hospital's capacity, services and level of medical technology. In 2005, the hospital partnered with Huntsman Cancer Institute to combine clinical care with research. Treatment includes chemotherapy, radiation therapy, clinical trials and full surgical options.