TCMH Studies Building Expansion

Texas County Memorial Hospital board members reviewed preliminary plans last week for an 8,000 to 10,000 square foot expansion to expand and relocate the hospital’s emergency room, along with enlarging and moving other departments within the hospital.

“Several months ago, the administrative team looked for a firm that could take our strategic plan and align it with hospital construction needs to take us well into the future,” Wes Murray, chief executive officer, stated as he introduced Gary Hansen, principal partner, and Steve Reutherford, associate, of HMN Architects in Springfield, during a board meeting.

HMN Artchitects has worked closely with TCMH since March when they were given job of creating a “master site plan” for the hospital.

Hansen and Reutherford gathered data on hospital volume, departmental and medical staff needs and strategic plan goals to put together their presentation for the board members showing their initial ideas for the future growth of the hospital.

“First, we looked at the overall site,” Reutherford said.

The current hospital has evolved from the core portion of the facility built in 1957 to the expansion for the in-house MRI, completed in 2006.

“How do we address what TCMH has today and combine it with the hospital’s needs for the future?” Reutherford asked, noting that the challenge was a core facility that is 50 years old.

Reutherford noted that the heart of the patient care area is very aged and public and private traffic ways intermingle.

“Hospitals built today do not intermingle public and private areas,” he said.

Statistical analysis shows that the volume for hospital departments such as medical surgical, intensive care and surgery have remained flat in recent years while the emergency department has experienced growth. Current needs and future growth potential must be considered in site development and planning.

In the proposal presented by HMN, the emergency department would be expanded and moved to the front of the hospital to increase ease of access. Patient rooms would be added on top of the emergency department addition.

Radiology would be consolidated into one area (except for relocating the MRI), allowing other departments such as pharmacy, laboratory, dietary and education to expand to accommodate current and future growth. Administration would relocate to what is now the emergency department to allow more administrative personnel to work in one area and to share resources.

“We compared the goals in the strategic plan to the expansion plans,” Reutherford said, showing how the strategic plan goals aligned with construction plans.

The proposed hospital expansion would “retool the hospital for future use,” according to Hansen and Reutherford. The new construction would help the hospital evolve into the new type of hospital allowing more patient privacy and creating more efficiency for staff.

Traffic around the hospital would be re-routed for ambulances and medical office complex traffic to utilize the south hospital entrance and inpatient, outpatient, employee and visitor traffic would utilize the north hospital entrance.

Reutherford noted that the expansion plans allow new construction to go on without interfering with the daily operations of the hospital.

Once the new construction was completed and departments relocated and expanded, new “flex space” would be available.

“Flex space is very important in healthcare because you don’t know what you might need to have room for in 10 or 15 years,” Reutherford said.

In the site planning process, Reutherford and Hansen looked at the possibility of moving the hospital to a new location or staying at the South U.S. 63 location.

“Staying here is definitely less expensive than buying land and building a new hospital,” Reutherford said. “This expansion will create brand new patient care areas and expand current patient care areas to accommodate new technology. It would be financially impossible to make the rooms accommodate today’s technology needs.”

The HMN proposed construction would allow for another level to be built on top of first level of patient rooms, if needed some day. Currently, additional floors cannot be built on top of the existing hospital due to building codes.

“This plan provides options for timing the construction,” Murray said. “This plan doesn’t disrupt patient flow in the hospital, and it can evolve over time.”

Murray noted that with the proposed plan movement or expansion would directly affect 18 hospital

departments, and every hospital department would be indirectly affected.

“It’s impressive,” Janet Wiseman, TCMH board chairperson, stated after the presentation.

“This plan addresses what our big concerns have been,” said Dr. Charles Mueller, chief of staff and general surgeon at TCMH.

Murray agreed with Wiseman and Mueller noting, “The core of the hospital has been here for 50 years, and these positive changes can take us forward for another 50 years.”

HMN Architects will continue to work with TCMH to develop blueprints and more detailed plans for the expansion project. Hospital administration will begin analyzing financial data to determine if funding is possible, as well as the best type of funding for the proposed expansion.

In his administrative report, Murray briefed board members on hospital staffing changes that have occurred and are coming up in the near future.

“We are already scheduling patients to see Dr. Charlie Rasmussen,” he said.

Rasmussen, a family practice and obstetrics physician, will begin seeing patients in the TCMH Family Clinic in Houston on Aug. 6. Rasmussen has provided emergency department physician coverage at the hospital for more than a year, so some area patients are already familiar with him.

“Dr. Rasmussen is very eager to come here and get to work,” Murray said. The hospital will be refurbishing the interior of the Family Clinic before Rasmussen’s arrival.

Deborah Belt-Kell, marriage and family therapist and professional counselor, joined TCMH and began seeing patients on June 18. Murray reported that Kell has already made contact with several new patients through her affiliation with the hospital.

Hospital administration and medical staff members are working together to create a succession plan for the merging of the two TCMH clinics in Cabool.

In late May, structural engineers notified the hospital that the Cabool Medical Clinic had some structural concerns that would need to be addressed. Due to age and termite damage, the roof of the building needs repair, and the repairs would cost more than the building was worth.

“Since we have two clinics in Cabool, we have the ability to combine the clinics,” Murray explained to the board. The goal is to have the plan for realigning TCMH Cabool clinic staff in place by Aug. 1.

The Cabool Medical Clinic will be available for use as storage for the hospital in place of several storage facilities that are currently rented by the hospital.

The hospital’s business office has also relocated from the brick building behind the hospital’s emergency department to the former Professional Building, the old medical complex on the hospital campus. The new space allows for more patient privacy when discussing patient accounts. Human resources and information technology services are also located inside the business office.

In the financial report, Linda Pamperien, chief financial officer, reported a positive bottom line of $10,882 for May and a year-to-date balance of $181,797. The average daily census in May was 13.

Present at the meeting were Murray; Pamperien; Mueller; Hansen; Reutherford; Joleen Senter Durham, director of public relations; Don Odle, director of environmental services; Mary Barnes, emergency department nurse manager; Dr. John Duff, senior vice president with Cox Health Systems; and board members Wiseman, Omanez Fockler and Jane Kirkwood.

Board members Mark Forbes and Larry Southern were not present.

The next meeting of the TCMH board of trustees is noon July 24 in the downstairs meeting room at the hospital.

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