10/12/05 — Hospital growth sends departments to new locations

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Hospital growth sends departments to new locations

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on October 12, 2005 1:49 PM

The board of directors for Wayne Memorial Hospital has voted to spend $1.09 million to relocate some departments to accommodate expected growth.

Patient Financial Services and Wayne Area Diabetes and Endocrine Center will move to an office building nearly three miles away from the hospital. Rehab Services will then move into the Patient Financial Services space in the southeast wing of the hospital.

Members of the board's Finance and Building and Grounds committees said the need to expand the imaging, cardiology and emergency departments prompted the relocation.

WMH president William Paugh said the overcrowding problem has been coming on for years, creating a "domino effect" in terms of space allocation.

"We have departments where we desperately need space," he said, citing pulmonary and radiology as examples. "It really causes a lot of things to back up. As tight as we try to schedule folks, radiology has been a growing department."

More than 100,000 radiological procedures were done at the hospital last year alone, said Amy Cain, hospital public relations director.

"We can't get people through there on a timely basis because of space," Paugh said. "We're concerned that we will not be able to grow."

Bottlenecks in waiting rooms and hallways create another problem, he said. In some areas, such as cardiology, the treadmill has to be shut down two days a month to accommodate the pediatric cardiology clinic, with similar problems occurring in mammography. There is also a need to expand the emergency department.

"We have been looking at ways to free up space," Paugh said.

When the decision was made to study where changes could be made and what could be feasibly moved, one of the first areas mentioned was Patient Finance Services.

The committee considered several pieces of property. The decision came down to second floor offices at Carolina Commercial Center near Tommy's Road, 2.8 miles from the hospital. The 7,200-square-foot space would be rented through a five-year lease at $7,087 for the first year and $8,400 per month in the second year, going up 3 percent for the remaining three years. Costs to move, install phones and computers and some additional equipment are expected to be about $75,000.

Board member Jack Best excused himself from the discussion and the vote, citing potential conflict of interest in the property acquisition. He returned to the room after the vote was taken.

WADEC, currently in a modular unit behind the hospital, would also relocate to the commercial center. The trailer would in turn be used for outpatient behavioral health programs beginning in early 2006.

Costs for that project are estimated at $15,000.

The cost to move Rehab Services was initially estimated at $750,000 but construction costs that rose since Hurricane Katrina brought the project closer to $1 million.

Renovations could begin as early as December, allowing other departments such as imaging and cardiology to begin renovations a few months later.

Paugh said the rationale behind signing a five-year lease is to allow for time to design an on-campus building to meet all the needs of the hospital.

"Our plan over the long haul is to move this back on campus," he said.

Building and Grounds Committee member Ken Gerrard addressed concerns about having to relocate several departments and staff.

"There was some sensitivity to moving people off the campus," he said. "At this point in time, that's the most feasible thing to do. In the long run for the hospital, this was the best move to make."

Board member Sam Hunter said the committees were fortunate to have found the space for the move.

"The location's good," he said. "I think you have made a good selection."