Questions arise regarding possible hospital remodeling

 The Cook County North Shore Hospital & Care Center board continues to pursue the possibility of remodeling and upgrading the facility.  On August 22, 2013, Administrator Kimber Wraalstad told the board about a study that showed that finances had improved for critical access hospitals after undergoing facility upgrades.  Revenue outpaced interest and depreciation, the number of staff per patient decreased, and quality outcomes were higher.

Wraalstad said she had been soliciting input and suggestions from department heads regarding the proposed remodeling of the hospital and care center. 

Wraalstad showed the board a slide of the general floor plan she was proposing.  It had a central entrance for visitors, outpatients, and emergency room patients facing the original hospital parking lot between the hospital and the care center.  It also included an operating room and the infrastructure necessary to provide chemotherapy.

Some services, such as cataract surgery, could be offered quarterly, Wraalstad said.  A general surgeon had called her, offering to work at the hospital part-time, she said, but she could not take him up on his offer because the present facility does not have a required scrub room next to what could be an operating room. 

Board member Tom Spence said the proposed floor plan, which makes use of the current building footprint while also including an addition, looked “chopped up” like the facility is already.  He said he thinks they are dealing with “a dinosaur.”   He suggested that an architect be employed to start them in the right direction. 

Architecture and engineering firms looking at requests for proposals (RFPs) require a master plan and budget to already be in place before they put in a bid, Wraalstad said.  An architect would create the specific drawings that would be needed, she said.

Whatever they decide to do would be a plan for the next 20 years, John Strange said.

Spence also said he would like to see all employees—not just department heads—have input into the proposed building plan.

Wraalstad said she would involve all employees when it was time to plan the design of individual rooms rather than soliciting input from everyone on where departments should be located.  She and Maintenance Director Rory Smith indicated that they had received input from the staff along the way.

Last time architectural changes were made, <<<job title>>> Kelly Swearingen said, employees felt they weren’t included.  On the other hand, she said soliciting input from employees at this stage in the process would be “too much.”

Employees might feel it was too late to offer input after the architectural work was already done, Spence said.  He said he was “very concerned” about getting input from employees and the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic. 

The board gave Administrator Wraalstad the go-ahead to send out RFPs.  Wraalstad indicated that the design would need to be one that Medicare would be willing to reimburse for depreciation.