Ocean Medical Center is taking the first steps in preparation for its 82 million dollar expansion of its Emergency Department.

Medical officials, Brick Township, and Ocean County officials were all present Thursday to celebrate the ceremonial groundbreaking at the facility. Additionally, guests were among the first to learn about a 5 million dollar gift from the Hirair and Anna Hovnanian Foundation in support of the Emergency Facility.

The project, which is the first part of the Ocean Medical Centers’ Master Facility Plan, will be three stories and triple the size of the Emergency Department.

Ocean Medical’s new ED will be 44,300 square feet a drastic increase from the current space, which is just over twelve thousand square feet.

John Lloyd, President of Meridian Health says emergency department use is up 27 percent from 2000 to 2010 and says the expansion became a necessity.

“To be candid, we outgrew the space. And the reason we outgrew it is because there’s such a demand for emergency services.”

The new facility will feature 49 patient bays for improved privacy, an additional eight bays dedicated for a Pediatric Emergency Center, a dedicated Emergency Behavioral area, as well as an express care area for minor injuries, and CT, ultrasound, and two X-ray rooms specifically for the ED.

Lloyd says the new facility will be able to handle upwards of 90 thousand patients a year. The health group head believes the high demand is not only due to an increase of population but also because residents prefer to stay local for medical needs.

The Hovnanian’s donation was presented by their daughter, Adele Hovnanian; and as a result of the Hovnanian’s donation Ocean Medical will name the department the “Hirair and Anna Hovnanian Emergency Department”.

The Hovnanian’s five million dollar donation is a “challenge gift”, which they will match dollar for dollar from funds raised by the community up to five million dollars.

Lloyd says they have a campaign to raise between five and ten million while the rest will be financed by the hospital.