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Southeast Missouri Hospital threw a party Sunday to mark the opening of its new lobby, and more than 2,000 people showed up for the open house. That kind of crowd demonstrates the level of community interest in its hospitals.

The $5.9 million lobby was part of the hospital's three-phase, five-year development plan. It represents the hospital's largest expansion since its construction in 1927.

This new front door for the hospital should speed up patient registration. The project includes a 20,000-square-foot main lobby, with a mezzanine-level restaurant and exterior courtyard. The new Lacey's on the Hill restaurant is run by Marriott Corp. The familiar revolving door remained, but everything else is much more open and customer-friendly.

The hospital also sponsored a party and performance at Capaha Park Sunday night as a thank-you for the construction inconvenience over the past few years. It was a wonderful gesture.

This entrance is more than a front door to Southeast Missouri Hospital. It will provide a doorway to the future of health care for generations to come.