The HSE is working on the design for an extension and refurbishment at St Vincent's Hospital in Mountmellick that could bring 100 new beds.
In a reply to Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley, the HSE said its 'preliminary' design is nearing completion.
In a letter to Deputy Stanley, Jim Curran, HSE Head of Estates, said it 'hopes' and 'anticipates' that the next stage and planning permission will go ahead to allow the construction to start early next year.
"We hope to proceed to Stage 2A shortly. We anticipate that a planning application will be lodged in 2019 and subject to a successful planning permission outcome that construction would commence in 2020," the HSE said.
The plan is that a new unit and refurbishment will add 100 extra beds to St Vincent's Hospital in Mountmellick and according to Laois TD Brian Stanley the first phase of this project, adding 50 beds, will cost €11.5 million.
Dep Stanley was provided with the update following a Dáil question to the Minister for Health Simon Harris. He said the cost of the project was revealed in previous Dáil answers.
In a recent report, it was revealed that the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) and the HSE believe the building is “non-compliant”, albeit moderately, with expected standards. The key problem stems from multiple occupancies leading to shared rooms, toilets and washing facilities.
Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley described the plan for the new unit if it goes ahead.
"The first phase of the hospital is to incorporate a new fifty-bed unit at a cost of €11.5 million followed by a second phase with the same number of beds. The existing buildings are to be refurbished to create further bed space and add extra capacity to the hospital," Deputy Stanley said.