New HCHC surgery addition scheduled to open Sept. 11
By STEPH TAHTINEN
Mt. Pleasant News
Henry County Health Center’s new surgery addition is six weeks away from completion.
“It’s starting to look like a facility,” Cragon Caboth, project manager, told the HCHC board of trustees on Tuesday.
“Everything looks like it’s coming together,” said Kent Severson, trustee, who had completed a hospital inspection before the meeting.
Inside the facility, the floors have been installed and crews are currently putting in ceilings in the operating rooms. The major medical equipment has started to arrive and is being installed, and 90 percent of the lights and 90 percent of the cabinets have been installed. The registration desk is being completed. Framing is being done in the former interior courtyard. The new furniture for the surgery has been ordered.
Paving has begun outside of the new facility and should be completed by the middle of August, said Caboth.
“There’s a lot going on right now,” said CEO Robb Gardner. “There’s a lot to be done in six weeks.”
Caboth noted that most of the contractors should be out of the new surgery area on Aug. 23, and at that point there will only be a few punch list items left before HCHC employees can have access on Aug. 26.
“Those two weeks starting Aug. 26 we’ll have to get everybody up and running,” said Chief Nursing Officer Jodi Geerts, noting that equipment has to be tested for so many days before it has to be used. “We’re on track and have our plans pretty well set for that.”
Trustee Rich Garrels asked about the process of cleaning the new facility.
“There will be an initial wipe down after the contractors leave to get ready for the open house, but the real thorough scrub will come the ninth and the 10th,” said Gardner.
“Environmental is never sterile,” added Geerts. “It’s physically cleaned as best as we can. The equipment that we use for surgery and the instrumentation, all of that will remain in sterile packaging or be reprocessed as necessary, but as far as the environment goes, it’s cleaned. There will be many stages of that occurring on Monday and Tuesday.”
Gardner noted that an open house is planned for Sunday, Sept. 8, from 1 to 3 p.m. the surgery department will move to the new facility on Tuesday, Sept. 10, and surgeries will take place Wednesday, Sept. 11.
Once the new surgery addition is complete, the construction trailer will be removed and the road and handicapped parking spaces that have been blocked off since October 2012 will be open.
“That will all be reopened up for our general public,” said Gardner. “Even though we still have six, seven more months of internal construction, we’re going to move that out of that area and allow that parking back in the front.”
“That will be nice for the patients,” commented Ron Clouse, trustee.
In other updates, Gardner informed the board that HCHC is also moving forward with the hospitalist program.
A hospitalist is a physician who specializes in the care of hospitalized patients. Because hospitalists are committed solely to the care of inpatients, they have the capacity to spend more time with patients and family during their stay at the health center.
HCHC launched its hospitalist program in March of this year, with the doctors of Family Medicine of Mt. Pleasant serving as the hospitalists.
On Aug. 1, phase two of the program will begin, as the Emergency Room doctors will fulfill the roll of hospitalist during the evening hours.
“It will help us to recruit full-time providers,” said Gardner. “No one can be on 12 hours during the day and then be on call for 12 hours constantly.”
To help move into this phase, the trustees approved additional privileges for emergency room physicians
“Basically all we’re doing is specifically addressing the privileges they have to take care of the inpatients at night,” said Dr. Steven Davis, chief of staff. “It’s not anything new as far as their medical privileges. These guys are all trained to do that, it’s just that they haven’t been doing that within our facility.”
The change also required the trustees to alter the hospital’s physician on-call policy.
“We just need to rewrite that police to reflect what we’re doing with the hospitalist program,” said Davis “It’s just ‘who does what when’ needs to be reflected in the policy because we’re doing things differently now.”
Meanwhile, HCHC is still working on phase three, which is recruiting two full-time hospitalists.
“We are looking to evolve that practice,” said Gardner.
In other business, Gardner also informed the board that the hospital has been recognized as a Most Wired hospital for the seventh year in a row.
“It just means you’re really trying to use technology to move patient care forward,” explained Gardner.
“Sometimes with most wired you get complacent, but it should be recognized with the same enthusiasm every year because it is a great accomplishment,” said Bob Meyer, board chair.
The hospital is also in the running for a hospital of the year award for customer service from the American Alliance of Healthcare Providers, said Gardner.
This is the same organization that recognized HCHC in 2012 as being a top 100 hospital.
The trustees also:
• Gave Gardner authorization to continue to look into being a provider for Co-opportunity Health Insurance.
• Approved the purchase of new surgery equipment for ophthalmology procedures.
• Reviewed board self-assessment results.
• Approved switching the August board meeting date to Thursday, Aug. 22, at noon in the HCHC board room.