Hospital addition important investment in region's future

Thursday, January 6, 2011

You've probably noticed the new structure on McCook's eastern horizon, the new 25-bed patient wing at Community Hospital.

If not, you're sure to notice the large white tent that was to be raised today in preparation for Sunday's grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony.

We hope you've taken time to read the special insert in Tuesday's Gazette, outlining the many amenities and advantages to the new rooms, designed with the patient in mind.

That's a change from the old "pod" design of the original 1974 hospital, which were really designed for the convenience of the staff keeping watch on the floor. That design served its purpose well for the last 36 years, but the rooms were too cramped for all the equipment required for efficient modern medicine.

The new rooms have features undreamed of in 1974, each with a flat screen, HD television providing hospital and healthcare information as well as entertainment and free wireless Internet. Other nice touches including patient robes, Bath and Body Works products, inpatient massages and copies of this newspaper and the Lincoln Journal Star.

But effective healthcare is the overriding goal, of course, and the new patient wing is only Phase I of planned improvements. The emergency room entrance is being renovated and improved, and Phase II construction, due to begin this spring, will include private pre- and post-surgery rooms, three larger operating suites with room for a fourth, in a location central to the emergency room labor and delivery, communication systems for surgeons in adjoining surgery suites, a second endoscopy suite, a new heating and cooling system, equipment booms for added safety and better overall integration.

Something to look forward to will be a healing garden on the south side of the hospital, adding emotional and spiritual components to the healing process, financed through the Community Hospital Health Foundation, which has provided valuable support to the hospital for more than 30 years and is playing a key role in the new projects.

Many things had to fall into place to make the project possible, not the least of which was the $30 million required.

Some $17 million came from the U.S. Department of Agriculture through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, but that is in the form of a low-interest loan which will be repaid to the treasury. With all the criticism the ARRA has received, we can't think of a better, more responsible use of such funding.

Also lending $15 million through the Thayer County Bank are West Gate-Lincoln, Bank of Lewellen, Pathway Bank-Cairo, McCook National Bank, Plattsmouth State Bank, State Bank of Bartley, Bruning State Bank, First Central Bank of McCook, Farmers State Bank of Wallace, Home State Bank-Louisville, American National Bank of Sidney, AmFirst-McCook, Farmers State Bank-Maywood, Bankers' Bank of the West-Lincoln and Thayer County Bank-Hebron. The loan is being guaranteed by USDA Rural Development.

The big white tent, complete with heaters, is being brought in to make sure everyone who attends Sunday's ribbon cutting event keeps warm and dry. We hope you'll take it in, at 2 p.m., to celebrate a major investment in our community's future.

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