LOWVILLE — After nearly 40 years, the Lewis County General Hospital is moving forward with a project that will result in a wide array of renovations and the modernization of key areas of its North State Street facility.
Since the medical-surgical inpatient floor, known as the Med-Surg Unit, was built in the 1960s and the operating room suite was renovated in the 1980s, hospital Chief Executive Officer Gerald R. Cayer said standards and practices have changed significantly as have the types of surgeries performed at the facility.
In 2015, 71,000 operating room minutes were logged, primarily through 1,307 minor surgeries like colonoscopies, removing masses and carpal tunnel procedures, but also in 465 major surgeries.
In 2019, the number of minutes estimated to be logged by the end of the year will be about 116,000, primarily from about 1,244 major surgeries like hip and knee replacements, hysterectomies, appendectomies, Cesarean sections, fractures and eye procedures, while there is likely to be only 504 minor surgeries.
“We have outgrown our capacity in our ORs,” Mr. Cayer told the hospital’s Board of Managers in their August meeting after they had been guided on a tour through the current facilities including the pre-op and holding areas of the operating room suite that are still in the original condition in which they were built in 1931.
With a cost estimated to be $20 million to $25 million, a new wing will be added to the hospital that is currently being referred to as a “surgical pavilion.”
Unless plans change through the process, the addition will connect to the existing structure at the back of what is now the obstetrics unit, extending on the property behind the hospital that is currently a tree-covered hill.
The two-story building will house three “state-of-the-art operating suites,” an endoscopy suite, the central sterilization area, a number of pre-operative and post-anasthesia care units and dedicated reception and waiting areas on the top floor.
According to Mr. Cayer, the new space will be designed to eliminate storage in the hallways, create better separation between the sterile and non-sterile areas, and improve operating room access from both the birthing unit and the Med-Surg Unit, while creating a more efficient flow of service that will improve both care and working conditions for the OR staff.
Following the nationwide trend of eliminating shared hospital rooms, the new Med-Surg unit will consist of 24 private patient rooms with private bathrooms en suite, including five intensive care unit rooms.
Med-Surg will also have a dedicated bariatrics room, a comfort care room for those patients receiving end-of-life care, a family room and a multipurpose consultation space.
The nurse’s station will also get a significant expansion and re-design.
Mr. Cayer said these changes will stay within the current footprint of the Med-Surg Unit combined with the operating room suite.
In addition to private rooms being the trend, Mr. Cayer told the board private rooms and bathrooms also support better healing through lower infection rates and better sleep because of fewer distractions.
The rooms are also likely to improve customer satisfaction, which is linked to the amount of reimbursement the hospital receives, Mr. Cayer said.
The changes are anticipated to have a positive financial impact on the hospital and to improve their ability to recruit and maintain surgeons as modern, efficient facility.
The 18 to 24 month capital campaign for the project is slated to begin in December.
With some differences, the project was originally presented to the public in February 2018, however, funding strategies are changing for this iteration.
According to the preliminary timeline, the project is anticipated to take two and a half years and is still in the early stages of development.
This month, Mr. Cayer and the hospital team are in the process of holding “staff meetings” to get feedback from the people who will be using the new facilities most about what they see is needed in the new spaces so that information can inform the final design.
Construction on the project is anticipated to begin in June 2020 and be completed for a ribbon cutting in the summer of 2022.