BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – Over the last year, the visits to Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley have more than doubled. That is now being addressed.

Wednesday morning, ground was broken on a $31 million expansion of the Boardman campus, adding more Emergency Room beds as well as more space for surgeries and behavioral care.

“We’re providing more behavioral health rooms and overall more patient care rooms overall. The behavioral health rooms are flex rooms that provide — I can see a medical patient there — but I can also provide a safe environment for a behavioral health patient,” said Dr. Mary Costello, emergency department director.

One woman brought her daughter to the hospital for an injury and discovered another health issue she was unaware of but is now being treated — thanks to the people at Akron Children’s.

Five-year-old Avery Earhart was fitted with a ceremonial hardhat Wednesday. Her mother Joni remembers bringing her daughter to the hospital after she fell and hurt her back.

“They found out she had two fractures in her lower back and a defect in her spine,” Joni said.

She says, at the time, she had no idea about that defect but says the specialists with Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley were able to facilitate treatment.

“The fact that this emergency room is geared toward children and it makes all the difference. It’s close to home. I mean, it’s connected to my pediatrician’s officer, to her doctor for her spine,” Joni said.

Although Akron Children’s moved in Boardman about 13 years ago, doctors noticed they were running out of space and the influx of COVID and other respiratory ailments made the situation even worse.

Prior to the pandemic, Akron Children’s averaged about 60 patient ER visits each day, but now, that number’s up to around 123 a day.

“And the last, at least five to seven years, we’ve been struggling and we hate to see longer wait times in the emergency department,” Costello said.

Administrators say they’ve collected more than $3 million in donations this year for the addition with another half-million from the state.

The work is to be finished in about a year and services will continue during the construction.