Hill Country Memorial Health System (HCMHS) in Fredericksburg will build a multi-story patient tower equipped to provide patients of Hill Country Memorial Hospital with well-designed, evidence-based private rooms.
“This is all about providing quality and confidentiality in a sophisticated community like ours where we have long-time residents and new retirees coming in from all over the country,” Allen Daigle, chairman, HCMHS Board Planning Committee, said. “This new patient facility with all private rooms is the right direction for us to go. It’s a project deserving of our support.”
Leo C. Tynan, III, M.D., the hospital’s chief of staff, said studies have shown that patients heal better and are more comfortable in private rooms. “The size of those rooms makes it easier for family members to be present, and our medical staff can be more efficient as well,” he said. “The healing touch comes in many ways at Hill Country Memorial. The new patient tower is one of the most important ways.”
The project will add a structure of four levels on the site now occupied by the Eckert-Smith Medical Office Building (just north of the Women’s Pavilion) and several storage and annex buildings in that immediate area. It will house ancillary support services, 50 private patient rooms and storage. “Other enhancements to the building and campus are under review as well,” said Mark Peterson, executive director/facilities for the health system.
According to Michael R. Williams, D.O., M.D., HCMHS interim chief executive officer, the 50 new beds will replace 40 semi-private beds on Central Nursing Unit. “It will provide the hospital with the capability of licensing and operating as many as 138 beds as necessary,” he said, saying that the hospital has a recent history of having to divert patients to other facilities for different reasons. One major reason has been our lack of the right types of beds and often a complete lack of beds. This project allows HCMH to minimize the diversion events and have capacity for future growth. Also, semi-private rooms do not provide patient privacy nor do they facilitate or encourage family participation in the patient’s care. Today, an increasing variety of medical and surgical problems exist and an every-increasing array of complex medical equipment that must be accommodated in a room in an effort to bring more of the hospital services to the patient. In short, these new rooms will help us care for our patients at a higher level of quality.
The space now occupied by Central will likely become offices that can be converted to patient care rooms if needed. The 10 private rooms on the south wing will be maintained in their present location.
When the HCMHS Board of Trustees voted Feb. 5 to proceed with the modernization and expansion project, it cleared the way for the Hill Country Memorial Hospital Foundation to begin preparations for a major fund-raising effort.
Mike Tomforde, chairman of the Hill Country Memorial Hospital Foundation Board, said private rooms are considered the norm for hospitals today. “We now have scientific evidence that private rooms designed to create a healing environment speed our recoveries so that we can get on with our lives,” he said. “Hill Country Memorial Hospital—our hospital—has exciting plans to change how it will bring health care to all of us in the future. Together, we can make it possible.”
Drawings of the proposed bed tower will be created as planning is finalized. As soon as they are available, they will be put on display in the hospital. If all goes according to plan, Peterson said architectural work will be completed by the fourth quarter of this year. “We will then be ready to put the project out for bid/negotiations to contractors in early 2009,” he said, adding that construction could begin as early as the first quarter of 2009 with a construction timeline of 18 to 24 months.
The bed tower is the latest in a series of major construction projects for the 88-bed hospital made necessary by rapid population growth in the hill country area. It opened the 42,000-square-foot Perry-Feller Professional Building in 1999 and completed a $7.7 million hospital expansion in 2001 that increased the number of beds from 61 to 77 and added 31,000 square feet of new space. In 2003, the hospital opened the 13,869-square-foot Women’s Pavilion birthing facility. In 2006, the 10-bed, 9,800-square-foot Don and Julie Holden Intensive Care Unit opened followed in 2007 by the opening of the 13,000-square-foot Brune Professional Building.
Last month, the Hope, Health & Healing Cancer Resource opened and will be followed later this year by a dedicated digital mammography center, both located in the Brune Professional Building.
Hill Country Memorial Hospital currently is an 88-bed medical center serving an eight-county area centered in Fredericksburg. It is a nonprofit, non-tax-supported facility that depends on donations to provide an extra margin for excellence. It is the area’s greatest volunteer effort, benefiting from hundreds of individuals who donate their time and talent to make a difference in the lives of others. The hospital has more than 130 independent physicians on its medical staff who provide 32 different specialties. It has been named one of the nation’s Top 100 Hospitals by Solucient, a leading source of health care business information.