Hospital expansion almost complete |

Hospital expansion almost complete

David Bunker
Photo by Ryan Salm/Sierra Sun Ann Delforge of Tahoe Forest Hospital leads a tour through the new expansion of the hospital. The expansion will add 43,000 square feet to the hospital.

Construction crews are putting the finishing touches on Tahoe Forest Hospital’s western wing, which will add high-tech advancements and improved facilities to the hospital in early spring. After more than two and a half years of steady construction, the hospital’s western addition is scheduled to begin opening in phases in March. The new 43,000-square-foot wing will hold, among other services, an intensive care unit, a medical surgical unit, an MRI facility, and a new lab.The project currently has a $36.6 million price tag.In the design phases, the addition was projected to cost $2226 million. By November 2002, the estimates had increased to $32 million, partially due to redesigns, according to Ann Delforge, who works in clinical program development at Tahoe Forest Hospital.The three funding sources for the project are a capital campaign, revenue bonds and operations revenue.

Although it is only approximately one-third the size of the current hospital building, the new wing will become the dominant portion of the hospital once it is complete, said Delforge.”For the bulk of the patients coming in, they will only see the new, and that is exciting,” Delforge said.The new wing will include a main entrance, off of Pine Avenue, which will take the place of the emergency room entrance that now is the primary entryway to the hospital. And the staging area used for construction will used for parking.Input from staff, patients

The western wing will also include new medical technology and new room designs – with many of the changes suggested by Tahoe Forest Hospital staff and hospital patients, Delforge said.”We are always paying attention to what the community addresses and what they need,” Delforge said. “We took years of patient comments into consideration in designing these rooms.”Hospital spokeswoman Paige Nebeker said that the nurses at the hospital also pitched in with their comments. “It was important to have nurses – who work these halls – having them influence the outcome was a huge departure from what usually happens [in hospital construction],” Nebeker said.The expansion, which was in planning phase eight years ago, according to Delforge, is an attempt to keep up with Truckee’s growing population.

“We probably have done a new building project once every year for the last 10 years. That’s just what is takes to keep up with the community,” Delforge said.One of the big changes will be that the hospital’s MRI technology, which previously was in a van outside the building, will have a permanent home in the western wing.Since MRIs are becoming more and more needed in the region, the technology will be used five times a week rather than the current three times a week.Over the long planning and construction process for the completion of the western wing, the hospital has tried to keep the expansion up to date with medical technology advancements. The approximately eight years of planning and construction on the building is a lifetime in the world of constantly advancing medical technology.”The trick is really to build your system flexible enough to progress [with technology advancements],” Delforge said. “It takes so long to build it and no matter what you do it’s a little bit out of date, so you try to build it with enough openness to progress.”

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