After it was announced in Budget 2017, the provincial government rolled out plans to improve the aging Misericordia Hospital in west Edmonton.

Health Minister Sarah Hoffman was on hand for the announcement Monday morning at the Misericordia, where officials said a new emergency department was planned.

Officials said in 2015-2016, more than 51,000 patients visited the hospital’s emergency department – double the capacity.

“The space is cramped, there is a lack of privacy,” Tana Fish, program manager of emergency services, said.

“This has led us to use every nook and cranny in our emergency department.”

Construction on the new facility is expected to begin by late 2018, once the project scope and bid process is complete. The new department is expected to be three times the size of the current facility.

“What we’re intending to do is pick off the most urgent needs as we can,” Covenant Health President and CEO Patrick Dumelie said.

While work is done, the province said the current emergency department will stay open during construction.

The current hospital building, including the emergency department, was built in 1969, and the last major renovation to the emergency department was completed in 1989.

The province is spending $65 million over four years to improve the hospital.

Money will also be spent on addressing a backlog of maintenance at the hospital through funding from the Infrastructure Maintenance Program. The province has spent more than $9 million on improvements for elevators, water systems, fire alarms and sprinklers.

The province will spend $6 million on those improvements in 2017-2018.

With files from Shanelle Kaul