In a continued effort to meet the Santa Clarita Valley’s health care needs, work is under way to expand the emergency department at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital. Director of Facilities Bob Knoblauch said the $9 million project is now in its second phase. “This is the major addition to the building,” he said of the construction, which will more than double the existing 7,700 square-foot emergency room to 16,600 square-feet. The expansion will increase the number of emergency room beds from 21 to 33. Knoblauch said as long as the valley sees a relatively dry winter, the project is expected to be completed by December 2006. He said that once the construction is completed, further improvements will include renovations to the existing emergency room and waiting area, and a new patient radiology area. While some improvements have been made over the years, Newhall Memorial’s emergency room was built in 1975 to handle approximately 18,000 visits a year. In 2003, some 36,000 people used the hospital’s emergency services, and hospital officials estimate by 2010 the annual number of visitors will reach 50,000. Expansion of the emergency room represents only a small part of Newhall Memorial’s plans for the future. City Planning Manager Lisa Hardy said the Planning Commission will have its first look at the hospital’s extensive master plan on Oct. 18, with a review of the environmental impact report following in early December. “All of the surface parking goes away,” she said, “(and) some buildings would be removed completely.” The 20-year plan proposes a variety of changes to Newhall Memorial’s campus, including three parking garages, a six-story hospital tower with a helipad and a number of office buildings.