MEEKER I Just a year ago, Pioneers Medical Center (PMC) broke ground on its new 89,000-square-foot healthcare facility east of Meeker.
The new $47 million medical building will house a Level IV trauma emergency department, critical access hospital, rural health clinic, long-term skilled nursing facility and several supporting ancillary departments.
Construction is running smoothly and the new facility is scheduled to open in late June instead of the original estimate of August.
The new campus will offer the same broad portfolio of services it currently offers and bring new services to better meet community needs.
Hospital CEO Ken Harman said, “Our goals are simple. First, we want to increase local quality to primary and necessary healthcare. Second, we want to minimize the amount of travel and associated costs to the patient and family when they are forced to travel 75 to 100 miles for necessary care.”
Through medical staff input, patient feedback and community focus groups, PMC has identified several areas to improve and/or establish better access to local care, meet American Disability Act requirements and respond to evolving community needs, including:
• Flexible, private rooms adaptable to address unique needs like isolation, bariatric or hospice care. The current hospital rooms are not ADA accessible; wheelchairs do not fit in the bathrooms. Two rooms will be designed to better accommodate a patient needing a longer stay or an end-of life care. Currently, only one or two people can comfortably fit in a room to visit a patient. The larger and well-furnished rooms will accommodate families in order for them to be with their loved one. Two other rooms are equipped for isolation care (Flu, MRSA, TB, etc.) as well as bariatric care
• Physical and occupational therapy resources such as kitchen and bathroom learning centers, transitional care beds and stroke recovery support. After a stroke, long illness or surgery, many patients need physical therapy to help them regain their strength. The new rehabilitation department will have an Activities of Daily Living (ADL) area that houses a small kitchen, laundry setting and bathroom. It will provide the therapy to help patients gain strength and return home. Additionally, it will provide restorative therapy for nursing home resident in order for those residents to have maximum independence;
• Improved outpatient treatment, including chemotherapy, pain management, infusion care and surgical recovery options. Meeker has experienced a growing number of cancer patients, need for arthroscopic surgery and chronic disease care in the past two years. Patients are currently referred to Valley View Hospital or St. Mary’s Hospital, each at least an hour away. PMC and Valley View Hospital are partnering to develop a chemo and infusion-therapy program in Meeker. This partnership will allow certain cancer treatments to be administered in Meeker.
“We are very excited about this partnership,” Harman said. “We believe it meets a sadly growing need, and it is fantastic to have the expertise of Valley View on our team.”
• Surgery care is being expanded, and Dr. Kevin Borchard is joining the team to provide orthopedic surgeries in Meeker. PMC’s Surgery Care offers a variety of outpatient services as abdominal surgeries, mastectomy, hernias (laparoscopic and open), endoscopies (EGD and colonoscopy), laparoscopic (gallbladder and appendix), tonsillectomy, dermatology and liver biopsies, surgical care and same-day recovery;
• An expanded Meeker Family Health Center will offer additional exam rooms, three procedure rooms and dedicated pediatric resources. Due to the limited number of exam rooms, the Family Health Center is only capable of seeing 45 patients a day. Additional exam rooms will increase the capability of the center to see 70 to 80 patients a day, increasing access and timeliness. The new clinic will have 14 exam rooms and three procedure rooms (used for skin lesions and minor procedures.) The center will now have a designated pediatric clinic staffed by our own local family medicine physician, with specialty training in pediatrics and adolescent medicine. The clinic will offer the most up-to-date developmental screenings and guidance recommended by the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) and follows the gold standard for pediatric and adolescent care. The physicians at the center have partnered with Rocky Mountain Youth Clinic to develop a pediatrics program for Meeker;
• A redesigned Walbridge Memorial Wing (skilled nursing home) to help aging members of our community stay in a comfortable, home-like environment with private rooms, multiple living and gathering spaces, and new cooking and gardening options. Currently the skilled nursing facility is 50 years old with community showers and shared rooms. Having private rooms will help patients maintain independence longer and create more of a home-like environment. Private rooms also help minimize infection and germs being shared from one person to another.
Why does Meeker need a new hospital?
Pioneers Medical Center is the only healthcare facility within 40 miles. It serves more than 3,500 residents, visitors and workforce members.
After more than six decades, the current facility needs to be replaced in order to be in compliance with current standards of care, patient safety and to meet ADA standards. Additionally, we recognize that having to travel an hour or more for healthcare increases the overall cost to patients and adds burdens to family and friends acting as caregivers.
Having a modern facility with modern technology will set the stage for quality local health care for future decades. This facility and the proposed new services are preparing Pioneers Medical Center to develop strategic partnerships (e.g. Valley View Hospital for chemo/infusion therapy and cardiology care, or HealthONE for Pediatrics and Stroke Care with Swedish Medical Center). Additionally, health care becomes a great asset in the community for attracting economic activity.
The basic approach to sustaining healthcare is to: 1) Recognize the declining assessed valuations in our county, and 2) Provide local healthcare that meet the needs of our residents and creates a diverse portfolio of revenues.
“We anticipated the declining assessed valuation when developing the finance plan for the construction,” Harman said. “Secondly, the new services mentioned will help meet community members’ needs, as well as create diversity in our revenues.”