Ribbon cutting, open house held Sunday for Community Hospital's new patient wing

Monday, January 10, 2011
With members of the hospital board and staff, contractors and other dignitaries looking on, chief of medical staff Dr. Mark Serbousek, from left, helps Sen. Ben Nelson and Jim Ulrich, Community Hospital CEO, cut the ribbon on Community Hospital's new 25-bed patient wing Sunday. The project is Phase I of a $30 million renovation effort that also will create new operating rooms, a healing garden and many other improvements. Despite a snowstorm which kept some dignitaries from attending, a standing-room-only crowd of about 300 turned out for the ceremony and open house. {Bruce Crosby/McCook Daily Gazette)

McCOOK, Nebraska -- Saying it "would have taken a lot more than this snowstorm to keep me from being here," U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson helped cut the ribbon on a new patient wing at his hometown Community Hospital of McCook.

"This is a great project that will help assure the physical and economic health of the community for generations to come," Nelson said to a standing-room-only crowd of nearly 300 on Sunday, housed in large heated outdoor tent erected in anticipation of the bad weather.

Participating in the ceremonies were Nelson, Brian Esch, chairman of the Community Hospital Board of Directors and Jim Ulrich, Community Hospital President and CEO.

Guests on the program, but unable to attend due to the weather included John Berge, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Congressional Relations for USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack; John L. Blake, Community Liaison for U.S. Rep. Adrian Smith and USDA Rural Development State Director Maxine Moul.

The crowd included Community Hospital Association staff, medical staff, board members and community residents in McCook and the hospital's service area.

"When industry and business consider location, health services are often one of the most important quality of life factors that influence their choice. This investment in McCook, which includes $17 million in low-interest loans from Recovery Act funds, means much-needed physical expansion of the Community Hospital while ensuring healthy citizens and a healthy community far into the future," Nelson said.

"With the completion of Phase 1 and the future completion of Phase 2 of our Facility Master Plan, we will further enhance our ability to provide quality, efficient and patient-centered care now and well into the future. Over the years we have been blessed with a wonderful working relationship with USDA Rural Development," Ulrich said.

"Through this relationship, in essence a partnership in healthcare, we have received financing for various building projects that has enabled our organization to live by our motto: 'Advanced Care, Always There'," Ulrich said.

Funding for Phases 1 and 2 of the project is provided through a $17 million Rural Development loan, funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Additionally, a $15 million Rural Development community facility guaranteed loan was financed through Thayer County Bank of Hebron, Neb., representing a group of Independent Community Banks in Nebraska, including West Gate Bank-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 hospital has contributed the remaining $2,730,000 needed. Community Hospital Association has secured $35 million in funding with the project costs expected at approximately $30 million.

"USDA Rural Development is pleased to be a leveraging partner in the Community Hospital project," Nebraska State Director Maxine Moul, USDA Rural Development, said in a prepared statement although she was unable to attend. "Providing quality medical care to rural areas of the state through hospitals such as Community Hospital is vital to rural residents," said Moul.

Phase 1 was a 14-month project that constructed a new 25-bed acute patient wing with five nursing support areas, two labor-delivery-recovery rooms, a waiting area and nursery on the west side of Community Hospital, and two isolation/hospice respite rooms and a healing garden on the southern end. A temporary corridor linking the current hospital to the new patient wing was also constructed.

Following a two-month transition to demolish the patient pods, Phase 2, an additional 14-month project, begins. It includes construction of a new surgery wing as well as outpatient spaces for observation rooms and patients receiving pain medications and chemotherapy. Also included are a new pharmacy area and a large community and staff meeting room for wellness programs such as diabetic education and 55PLUS.

The expansion has already created more than 300 construction jobs and is expected to create additional jobs throughout the course of the remaining construction.

Hospital improvements totaling $13.4 million have been completed over the last 20 years to accommodate the health care needs of the area. Rural Development has participated in several of these hospital projects through a combined total of $5 million in loan assistance.

Community Hospital is a Critical Access Hospital, located in McCook, Nebraska, that provides acute inpatient and outpatient care, skilled nursing, emergency medicine, surgery, obstetrics and delivery, diagnostic facilities, a pharmacy and rehabilitation services. The hospital offers two rural health clinics, an outpatient services center, home health and hospice programs, visiting specialists, sleep study and orthopedic clinics. Community Hospital serves the 11,500 residents of Red Willow County along with residents of Frontier, Furnas, Hayes, and Hitchcock counties in Nebraska; and Cheyenne, Decatur, and Rawlins counties of Kansas.

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  • More signs of progress on the Golden Plains. Congrats to all involved.

    -- Posted by dennis on Mon, Jan 10, 2011, at 10:46 AM
  • Yes, job well done!

    -- Posted by FarmerJoe on Mon, Jan 10, 2011, at 11:21 AM
  • Must be a McCook thing but where are the hard working women that keep the hospital operating in the picture? Same old mentality, old white guys get to do the ceremony. Sad depiction but great news for the area.

    -- Posted by BuffRoam on Mon, Jan 10, 2011, at 11:57 AM
  • I'm sure that the hard working women that keep the hospital in operation were really happy to get the day off.

    -- Posted by BobBee on Mon, Jan 10, 2011, at 12:39 PM
  • Actually, several of the nursing staff were mentioned by name, and all the Hospital employees were thanked for their dedication and hard work by Mr. Ulrich. I have to say, they (McCook Hospital) have done a lot to add value to their care and that IS one of the things that industry planners look for when locating their new firms.

    A step in the right direction.

    -- Posted by PensiveObserver on Mon, Jan 10, 2011, at 10:15 PM
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