Hospital provides input for architects

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The architect chosen to help Community Hospital of McCook implement Phases I and II of its 2007 Facility Master Plan visited with hospital personnel, healthcare providers, directors and members of the public last week to develop the concept of improvements to the hospital's patient rooms and surgery area.

Hospital president and CEO Jim Ulrich reported to hospital board of director members at their meeting Wednesday that architects from HDR Architecture Inc. of Omaha visited the campus of Community Hospital Monday through Friday to determine changes and improvements needed in in-patient rooms and surgery areas. This visit included a presentation to and discussion with the hospital board of directors Wednesday.

HDR representatives gathered input from the hospital's professional and support staff members, medical and nursing staff, department employees, hospital board of directors and Community Hospital Health Foundation board members and members of the public.

Ulrich said that staff and members of the public voiced similar concerns about the size, functionality and noise level in patient rooms, as well as a lack of privacy in surgery areas.

During the first week of May, Community Hospital personnel plan site visits to hospitals in Grand Island, Lincoln and Omaha and to critical access hospitals in the same areas to look at improvements in their patient rooms and surgery areas, and to visit the healthcare professionals in these facilities regarding the functionality and benefits of their new or renovated facilities.

The architect will return to McCook on May 11, Ulrich said, to continue this schematic design stage of the building process. Also in May Ulrich plans to invite the public to a presentation at the hospital to answer questions about the facility master plan and its implementation.

A question Ulrich said he has answered a few times is why Community Hospital would enter into a large project in unstable economic times. "As it turns out," Ulrich said, "this is one of the best times from a cost perspective for a project such as this. Construction costs are down from previous years," he said. "We can save substantial dollars in construction by starting construction this fall or early next spring."

This type of construction project can also boost local economic activity, he said.

Ulrich said that Community Hospital's improvement project is not only an investment in the future of healthcare, but also in the economy of the region served by the hospital.

Ulrich said that hospital officials continue to work on obtaining the best financing options available to Community Hospital. "We won't begin construction without financing," he said, "and we'll be able to do continue design stages while finalizing our financing for the project construction."

Ulrich reported that grants from the Community Hospital Health Foundation during the first three quarters of 2008-2009 is just slightly more than $92,000, nearing the $100,000 amount that the Foundation traditionally grants to the hospital for equipment and programs each year.

Ulrich said that the Foundation continues to support the hospital's Hospice program, and has awarded just a little more than $12,000 in scholarships.

"It is gratifying to see this level of support from the Foundation to Community Hospital," Ulrich said, "and to see support from donors to the Foundation."

During the 2007-08 fiscal year, Community Hospital provided 87 programs to serve 57,800 people for which the hospital, a not-for-profit organization, received reduced or no reimbursement, figures included in an annual "Community Benefits" report submitted to and compiled by the Nebraska Hospital Association.

Ulrich said the total net benefit of those services is $1,183,807, a figure equal to 4 percent of the hospital's expenses and slightly more than one-third of the hospital's excess of revenue over expenses (income).

This report indicates, Ulrich said, that Community Hospital is giving back to the community it serves an amount that equates to about one-third of the hospital's income.

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