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Hospital board identifies facility master plan goals

ABHUTCHISON, Sierra Sun

Building a new unit for 25 medical and surgical inpatient beds and six intensive care beds, upgrading the older areas of the hospital to promote a healing environment and making parking more accessible represent some of the facility master plan goals Tahoe Forest Hospital board members have identified.

At Tuesday night’s regular board meeting, the TFH district board of directors completed the first phase in moving ahead with plans for the construction of a “west addition” by adopting six design goals. These goals include:

— Construction of new inpatient rooms (medical/surgical and Intensive Care) which will meet new state law and seismic regulations and allow expansion of outpatient surgery and procedure rooms, the diagnostic laboratory and relocation of the inpatient pharmacy.

— The design of modern patient rooms which allow privacy for patients, their physicians and families; and space to involve families in learning to provide continuing care to patients after they are discharged from the hospital.

— The design of the building addition to maximize efficiency of staffing and operating costs without compromising patient care, and while maintaining fair market-based wages and benefits for employees.

— Fully accommodate current and emerging medical technology.

— The design of access, parking and exterior appearance in order to improve convenience wile maintain an aesthetic quality which blends well with our community.

— Accommodation of future growth, including the peaks and valleys of seasonal admissions, population growth and future changes in health care delivery.

According to TFH district administration, planning for the new construction is a three-phase process.

“The first step was to review the drivers and initial design goals,” said TFH administrator and CEO Larry Long. “In phase two, we plan to take the narrative design goals and convert them into a schematic drawing.”

Expansion

The need for expansion was first identified when the California Legislature passed a new law requiring all hospitals in the state to meet stricter new seismic regulations. The building that houses the Intensive Care Unit and Medical/Surgical patient rooms, which was built in 1950, does not meet the new regulations, and cannot be retrofitted to qualify, said TFH board president Rob Eskridge.

“The people that go into the hospital for inpatient care are the more acute cases,” said Eskridge. “We need to have a place to put these patients, and there is no other space available.”

Another big driving force for expansion is that existing hospital space is extremely tight. According to Ann Holmes Delforge, director of inpatient services, in some rooms four hospital patients are sharing one bathroom.

She also brought up that a big part of follow-up care helping is training family members to provide continuing care when the patient returns home. Because space in patient rooms is so tight, accommodation for a family-centered environment is impossible.

Eskridge identified hospital services that continue to grow as a third driving force in hospital expansion.

“There are functions that exist in the current hospital that have to grow,” said Eskridge. Those include outpatient surgeries, minor procedures (such as spinal injections) and the laboratory.

“The state surveyors told us that the lab is severely out of space,” said Eskridge. The lab is packed too tight to allow space for modern machines, he said.

“The (new facility) will give the hospital a much improved ability to respond to increasing volumes of outpatient services we are providing,” said Long. “The second thing is modernizing our inpatient acute care services.”

Local architect Forrest McMullen has been working with hospital administration on the plans for the west addition. At the meeting he went over project drivers, issues and priorities and design goals for the project with the board members.

He also presented the proposed gross area for the new facility which would total 33,417 square feet for the total new construction phase. The new building would include ICU, inpatient physical therapy and a medical/surgical unit in the upper level; admitting, dietary, laboratory, lobby and future outpatient use in the lower level space; and an emergency unit.

The construction will also include remodeling existing space, which will cover a proposed 7,602 square feet.

At next month’s board meeting, McMullen will present to board members a more detailed architectural drawing of the new construction plans based on the six approved design goals. A cost range for the project will also be discussed, said Long.

The hospital district plans to finance the new construction through two sources: operational revenues and gifts and philanthropic support from the community.

“Generally we plan to finance it from operational revenues, money that is set aside for future costs of providing health care services,” said Long.

Long said that hopefully by June or July the district will develop more detailed financial plans for the project.

The board also approved the fiscal year 2000 strategic goals for the hospital. They identified six priorities:

— Customer service/communication to all of the publics.

— Provide access to care.

— Enhance efficiencies and cost competitiveness.

— Provide seamless care.

— Provide “right mix” of health care.

— Design, finance and construct new “west addition” from operational cash flow.

Each priority presented by Larry Long included a list of goals, which the board felt appropriate to focus on for the year 2000.

These goals included providing a customer feedback system for all customers; increasing community awareness of hospital services; improving access to health knowledge through the development of a Community Resource center; expanding health care coverage and access in our community; implementing “Community Health Planning” strategies; increasing marketshare in key inpatient services; improving cash flow through redesign of registration and billing process; taking advantage of grant monies to support operating priorities and goals; launching “continuum care management” process; expanding specialty services; integrating proven alternative treatments into medical services; conducting needs assessment for senior services; developing dental services for underserved population; obtaining Medicare certification for Hospice.


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