Follow the signs inside or ask a volunteer for help in getting around.

The main entrance to the hospital has been closed for several weeks, as workers completed early stages of a $29 million renovation. Thursday, the construction area became more interesting, when the canopy over the entrance was demolished.

Demolition is expected to take three to four weeks, depending on the weather, according to Mark Hopping, project superintendent for Hutton Construction.

It's business as usual at Pratt Regional Medical Center, with signs and volunteers to help patients and visitors find their way around and temporary walls to separate "us from them," in the words of chief financial officer Hilary Dolbee.

There are two ways to get into the hospital. The main entrance, from East First Street, leads to a parking lot on the left, in front of the South Central Medical Clinic. Most parking spaces to the right are still available, but will be eliminated as the project goes forward. A new parking lot to the east of the clinic lot should be open in a couple of weeks, according to Kim Stivers, community relations coordinator.

Straight ahead from the clinic entrance, patients and visitors will see a volunteer station. They can stop there for guidance, or follow the sign to the right. Admissions is in the same place as before, but it's a longer trip to get there.

Wheelchairs are available at the first volunteer station.

Surgical patients checking in before 8 a.m. may be admitted through the Surgicenter.

Patients may also use the emergency room entrance to the hospital. Parking is limited, however, and it's important that the ambulance bay be kept clear, Stivers stressed.

The driveway from Rochester Street will be closed fairly soon.

Work has also begun at what is called the "back of the house," to connect the newest addition, the medical complex, to the hospital. Currently, a bridge on third floor is the only connection. As a result, patients at Pratt Family Practice, who need a hospital service, such as an X-ray, might be asked to leave the complex and drive around to the hospital.

"That's one of the complications of hospitals that grow — how do you piece everything together," Dolbee commented.

The link should make it easier for patients to get around, she said.

Administrative offices have moved into the medical complex, in the area formerly occupied by optometrists Maydew and Thibault. Anyone who wants to pay a bill may do so on the third floor.

The first phase of construction, completion of new patient rooms, will take about a year, Stivers said, and the entire project is expected to cover two years. The addition will occur in what was the main hospital parking lot, extending almost to the higher tier of parking spaces.

PRMC provides a construction update that appears as an advertisement on the back page of the Tribune every Saturday.