Moving a hospital to a new facility is a lot trickier than wrapping household items in newspaper and labeling cardboard boxes.
It requires planning and hard work, but officials at the new Hillsboro Community Hospital said the move will mean better health care, not only now, but for generations to come.
Marion Regier, chief executive officer, said, “It feels great to be moving in. It’s so surreal. Patients will also see a big change.”
Construction on the new hospital began in April 2016, and on Monday, April 17, the move began; most of the work was completed by Sunday, April 23, she said.
Regier recalled the original groundbreaking ceremony was Dec. 14, 2010, more than six years prior to the actual construction.
“I know sometimes we thought this day was never going to come, but they kept encouraging us,” Regier said about city leaders.
The new facility is larger than the old hospital, Regier said, with 27,000 square feet, a new kitchen facility and the emergency room set up with the nurses’ station.
The same number of patient rooms remained at eight.
Regier said the former facility, completed in 1956, had no kitchen, but one was included in the new hospital.
“We used to purchase meals from Salem Home,” Regier said. “Now that we have added a kitchen, we have also added three to four more people.”
One of those new staff members could be at the nurses’ station.
Complicating the move from one facility to the other, was that health-care services needed to be provided during the week-long move, Regier said.
“One room remained set up in case of an emergency,” she said.
The patients at the old facility were scheduled to move to the new location at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 22.
Regier said some of the more sensitive medical equipment, such as the CAT scan and X-ray machines, were left behind.
“We have new equipment (to replace them) with plans to sell the others,” she said.
In addition to hospital staff, doctors and other clinic personnel, Tabor College students, city of Hillsboro employees and others in the community got involved in the transition.
The new facility carries a price tag of $11.4 million with the city of Hillsboro agreeing to loan $1.275 million.
The local construction loan for infra-structure work helped secure the USDA loan for the hospital project.
The rest of the construction loan of $9.7 million is through the Bank of Hays and guaranteed by USDA, according to Larry Arthur, CEO of HMC/CAH Consolidated and Rural Community Hospitals of America.
Not really a loan
Arthur said the city’s $1.275 million will be repaid.
“The city’s doing this upfront, and then we are paying them back over the life of the bonds,” Arthur said.
Arthur said that the partnership between the city of Hillsboro and HMC/CAH has become a model for other projects
The company has additional building projects set for 2016 in Horton and Stigler, Okla., and Ripley, Tenn.
Jim Shaffer, president of the Hillsboro hospital and chair of the HMC/CAH corporation, credits Arthur for envisioning a system of rural hospitals.
“He thought there was a way you could have a system of hospitals where the cost of operations can be reduced by the numbers having a better accounting system and a better back office system.” he said.
“This had not been done in rural hospitals anywhere in the country that we know of.”
JE Dunn Construction, Kansas City, Mo., was the lead contractor for the project.
HMC/CAH Consolidated, owns 12 critical-access hospitals in five states: Kansas, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Tennessee.
A critical-access hospital, Regier said, is a Medicare program for rural hospitals that allows them to be reimbursed based on the facility’s costs—whether the census is high or low.
The hospital’s new location is at the intersection of Industrial Road and U.S. Highway 56. The new facility opened Monday, April 24.
For more information, call 620-947-3114.