Healthy expansion

Dave Sikes of Myers Electric works on the new storage facility being built as part of Plains Regional Medical Center expansion project. Photo by Rick White.

By Gary Mitchell

The Plains Regional Medical Center expansion is gaining momentum — much to the delight of the hospital staff.
In fact, the Healthplex building — which will house Home Health Care and Hospice and the Rehabilitation Center — is set for completion this month, said Wes White, interim administrator and chief financial officer for the hospital.
“We will begin providing services in the Healthplex building on July 21,” he said. “We will schedule an open house for the public after the initial opening and after we complete the Daily Living Garden (connected to the facility).”
Staff members say they’re eager to begin using the facility, said Joan Martin, R.N., assistant administrator and director of clinical services.
“We’re anxious to get into it,” she said. “The staff is excited to be moving into it and about all the expansion taking place.”
Construction on the first phase of the hospital’s five-year, four-phase expansion is nearing completion with the 15,000-square-foot Healthplex this month and the 8,000-square-foot cancer treatment center in November, White said.
The first phase of construction carries a $7.1 million price tag, while the overall four phases of the expansion will cost $39.8 million, according to hospital officials.
Along with the first phase projects, construction has begun on a new warehouse facility attached to the south side of the hospital, White said.
“It allows us to discontinue the use of the loading dock on the west side of the hospital,” he said. “It’s scheduled for completion by August. Then we’ll begin construction of the new emergency room and urgent care additions in September. The completion date for that construction will be in June of 2004 and will open in July.”
Martin said the warehouse will be of benefit to all units of the hospital.
“It will help facilitate getting supplies to the units quicker,” she said. “That will be really nice. We won’t have to stock our individual units so much because we will have a supply on our campus here.”
Martin said she and her staff are looking forward to the expansion of the emergency room and urgent care areas.
“Right now, ER and urgent care are separated,” she said. “But we’ll be bringing them together like most larger facilities. It will help the flow, help the patients and the physicians by being in one area.”
Construction is also beginning on the new physicians office building located west of the outpatient parking lots of the hospital, White said.
“It will house approximately 20 physicians, and construction will be completed in May 2004,” he said. “The operating room, urgent care and warehouse are all part of Phase I. The physicians office building is a separate project. A portion of the office building will be for independent physicians, and the other portion will be for physicians employed by the hospital. Physicians from in town can move to part of this new building. In fact, some physicians have expressed interest in officing here. This building will provide office space for new physicians recruited to the community. That’s currently not available to the community.”
White said the next building phase has been submitted for board approval for the 2004 capital budget for the hospital.
“It would include an expansion of the surgical and recovery services,” he said. “Construction would start in 2004 and end in 2005. It’s an exciting time for us here at the hospital. We’re all excited about our expansion in terms of being able to provide more medical services to our community.”