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HaysMed Plans $18.5 Million Expansion

Hays Med plans $18.5M expansion

Published on -9/8/2011, 10:27 AM

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Hays Medical Center administrators this morning announced plans to expand the hospital's main building and remodel several existing departments.

The plan, with a price tag of about $18.5 million, will add about 65,000 square feet of office and clinic space. The expansion largely is a result of Hays Med's continued growth, Chief Executive Officer Dr. John Jeter said.

"We're not doing it just to do it. It's, I think, related to patient safety," Jeter said. "Things aren't designed right, or are too crowded, and it can become a patient safety issue. We've had a lot of input from nursing staff and physicians."

The first, and most visible, phase of the several-tiered plan will be construction of a new four-story tower between the Miller Medical Pavilion and DeBakey Heart Institute on the hospital's south side.

Construction of the Bickle Family Tower, named for Hays Med benefactor Don Bickle, is expected to begin in mid-October. It should be finished by November 2012.

The second floor of the new space will be dedicated to the DeBakey Heart Institute cardiology clinic. The clinic will be connected by a staircase to the first floor of the DeBakey Heart Institute.

"They've just grown beyond our expectations," Jeter said of the clinic. "It's uncomfortable for staff, patients, everybody -- and we're going to continue to grow."

The addition also will include "shell space" that can be used in the future for expanding services, as well as a significant amount of space for staff offices.

"The other pressing problem we've had in the last few years is the recognition that we needed more physician office space," he said. "We were simply at capacity, and with more doctors coming, we're really not sure where to put them."

The extra room will allow Hays Med's information technology staff, part of which is housed at the Hadley Center, to return to the main campus.

The other component of the project will be an extensive remodel of several departments.

Architectural studies have found the building's oldest tower, constructed in the early 1970s as St. Anthony's Hospital, remains structurally sound, but updates are needed, Jeter said.

All inpatient bathrooms will receive a significant renovation, and plumbing infrastructure will be updated at the same time. That project will occur in eight nine-week phases, said Dale Montgomery, vice president of support services.

Other departments, last updated about 15 years ago, also are needing a facelift, Jeter said.

"There's a few departments that were designed back in the mid-90s and simply don't function by today's standards," he said. "In 15 years, there's been so much change in health care and technology. And we've had more demands, more patients, sicker patients, bigger patients."

The outpatient cancer services area in the Dreiling/Schmidt Cancer Institute also will see several changes. That project could be completed in two phases, the first of which would include enlarging the guest waiting area, Montgomery said.

A possible second phase, which would renovate treatment rooms, will begin in a few years.

A second C-section operating room will be added to the labor and delivery unit, as well as another labor/delivery room and a recovery room. As administrative staff moves into the office tower, the Newborn Intensive Care Unit will be moved to another space down the hall, further expanding the unit.

The labor/delivery unit was designed in 1996 for 600 deliveries per year. The hospital now performs more than 700 deliveries each year, including many high-risk cases.

"We haven't had a tremendous growth in the number of deliveries, but we've probably had a growth in the complexity of the deliveries and the complexity of the babies that we take care of," Jeter said. "There's been technology changes."

The outpatient surgery unit, located in the Miller Medical Pavilion, will be remodeled to make patient cubicles larger and more private.

As departments shift space, more room also will be available for growth. Hays Med's Breast Care Center, which opened in May at Oak Park Medical Complex, will be moved into a first-floor office suite, along with breast imaging.

Other departments currently landlocked, such as radiology and the emergency department, will have room to grow in the future, Jeter said.

"There's new clinical services and new procedures that just seem to pop up all the time, and we have no place to put them," he said.

Interior remodeling also could begin as early as next month, though administrators hope to work around the hospital's peak-census months.

While interior construction likely will be disruptive, steps will be taken to ensure any disturbances are as minimal as possible, Montgomery said.

"We'll certainly close off that (construction) space ... which means we will build walls and contain the construction," he said. "We will have a clear line of communication to nursing staff."

The construction plan has been about three years in the making, Jeter said. Original plans have been downsized, partly due to economic uncertainty stemming from national health insurance reform, he said.

"We're doing it at a cost we think is affordable, given the uncertainties in the American economy," Jeter said. "It's taken us three years to get to this point, but I think we're really excited about what we're doing."