Aiming to address patient needs for privacy, security, safety, efficiency

-Submitted photo
Stewart Memorial Community Hospital physical therapists Laura Hejtmanek, left, and Luke Larson check the plans for the physical therapy gym as part of a $31 million expansion and renovation project at the hospital.

LAKE CITY — Stewart Memorial Community Hospital is entering a projected $31 million building and renovation project that will expand patient care areas at the Lake City hospital.

Areas most impacted will be the emergency department, rehab services, cardiac rehab, business office, and respiratory therapy, to address patient needs for privacy, security, safety and efficiency.

In the past two years, SMCH has seen a 21 percent increase in patient visits to rehab services that include physical, occupational and speech therapy. Outpatient services, including cardiac rehab and respiratory therapy, have seen an increase of 18 percent since 2015.

“We plan to expand and renovate our hospital to enhance the overall patient experience, broaden available health care services close to home, recruit and retain the best medical staff, and be a catalyst for economic development in the county, specifically through expanding our ER and Rehabilitation Services departments and providing patients with the care and privacy they deserve,” Cindy Carstens, chief executive officer, said.

The $31 million project will create private exam and treatment rooms in the emergency room and rehab department. The ER will be moved closer to the patient wing, increasing availability and efficiency for nursing staff.

-Submitted photo
SMCH housekeeping supervisor Shirley Naughton and Chief Financial Officer Jim Henkenius put the finishing touches on the sleep study room.

A new helicopter landing area will be placed in a restricted area and emergency traffic will flow separately from main traffic flow. Separate hallways for public and private use will be created to ensure patient privacy.

The majority of the funding for the project will be provided by the United States Department of Agriculture.

Remaining funding will come from local bank financing and community support.

Working with the architects for the expansion, staff members from rehab services, cardiac rehab, housekeeping, respiratory therapy, the business office, and maintenance spent five days at Western Iowa Soft Water, formerly Celebrations to Go, in Lake City, as part of the P3 process — Planning, Packaging, Perfecting — the architectural firm of CMBA utitilizes during the design portion of the process. CMBA provided the initial drawings for the expansion as a springboard.

The group split into three teams to design work areas best for patients and staff. Coming together, the group was then able to determine the best plan. Using cardboard, tape and ingenuity, staff then built models of several rooms to get a feel for the proper size and placement of equipment.

“Building the models speeds up the design and implementation process,” Carstens said. “This process decreases the need for changes later on.”

Members of the group found much value in the process.

“It worked well to help visualize the areas. Seeing them built helped us recognize how a patient with mobility issues, such as a wheelchair, might be able to use the facility. So we included lowered and raised counters at the registration desks,” Shirley Naughton, housekeeping supervisor at SMCH, said.

An open house was held on Jan. 23 for the public to attend and view the models and the updated floor plan for the expansion.

“Today, we stand in a unique position to continue this extraordinary vision and ensure that our communities have local access to quality healthcare well into the future,” Carsten said. “A vibrant medical community is crucial for the growth of our communities and the quality of life of our residents both young and old.”