Hospital update heard at SEED meeting

An update on the renovations at Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital (RPMH) was given by hospital administrator Donna Boatright at the meeting of the SEED (Sweetwater Enterprise for Economic Development) board of directors held on Monday morning.Construction at the local hospital began in 2010 with an energy savings and water conservation project. A performance contract with McKinstry was established to replace the lighting, autoclaves, boiler, HVAC, patient room units, the walk-in freezer/refrigerator and toilet.Notably, some of the items that were replaced had never been updated since the hospital’s inception in 1976. Although the project totaled around $2.2 million, it was financed with the guaranteed energy savings.In 2011, the renovation of the Medical Surgical Unit began and was completed in 2012, which included all 45 patient rooms, the addition of six ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) rooms, and a complete remodel of the central nurses’ station and all support areas.The project, which cost around $1.2 million, was financed with additional energy savings and fund received from compliance with a federal mandate for electronic health records with Meaningful Use.The following year allowed for the hospital to begin the construction of an 18,000 square foot medical office building, which was completed in 2013 and cost $2 million. The existing office building was also renovated and is nearly completed, and now eleven office spaces are available for doctors.Also last year, the construction of a 7,200 square foot Cardiac Rehab/Community Wellness facility began. At the cost of $2 million, the project will be financed with no increase in taxes.A $40,000 matching grant from the Nolan County Foundation has been received for the project, with an additional $25,000 received to date toward the match. The project is expected to be completed in April 2014.Currently, plans are being considered toward the renovation of the OR/PACU/ICU and a newly constructed OB. The project will be presented to the Nolan County Hospital District (NCHD) board of directors in February for a decision.Should they approve the project, it would have to go before the public for a bond election sometime later this year, which would be the very first time for the hospital district to hold a bond election. The extensive project is expected to total around $17 to $18 million and would also include the renovation of the hospital entrance in order to meet modern standards.The hospital has made significant changes and replacements in order for citizens to be able to use the services offered in the community, but the updates to the facility also help with physician recruiting. Jennifer Sinclair-Liedtke, a Family Practice/OB doctor, will begin her local practice in the summer of 2014 once she finishes her residency in June. Additionally, RMPH is working with Hendrick Medical Center to bring another family practice doctor at the same time who will live and work in Sweetwater.Furthermore, the hospital is working on recruiting an internal medicine doctor and orthopedic surgeon. The consulting doctors’ office is reopened in the renovated clinic--which includes cardiology, oncology, orthopedics, pain and spine--and RPMH is developing other specialties in order to provide part-time services.And since October 2013, the hospital obtained a new Emergency Department physician group. This particular group of doctors not only work in Sweetwater, but also at Hendrick Medical Center in Abilene.Looking ahead, the hospital has been looking at the possibility of adding dialysis to provide outpatient services, which would be around a $1 million project. Currently, around 30 local patients have to travel to obtain these particular services.However, some problems have arisen with other hospitals with a dialysis program regarding department surveys and becoming a certified facility. The wait for the survey to take place ranges anywhere from 18 months to 2 years.