Expanding St. Ann’s ‘always assessing space’ for next medical office project|
by Carrie Ghose, Staff reporter
July 19, 2012
With a $100 million expansion of Mount Carmel St. Ann’s Hospital set to open in phases over the next 14 months, I asked hospital President Janet Meeks the natural question: What will you build next and when?
Understandably, Meeks is focused on the orange cones and cranes already surrounding the campus. The hospital staff on Wednesday, when temperatures again hit the 90s, had delivered ice cream treats to the Messer Construction Co. workers building a four-story hospital addition, new kitchen, dining area, energy plant and a parking garage. The project is on time and on budget, she said.
A master plan for the growing campus that Mount Carmel Health System submitted to the City of Westerville in the spring (PDF here) future plans for a three-story topper to the new tower plus possible new medical office buildings that would sit closer to the streets so the campus doesn’t greet traffic with parking lots. The hospital in the future will have more multi-story structures and garage instead of lot parking, the plan says.
While the existing offices are full and the hospital fields requests from interested physicians often, Meeks said she can’t speculate on when the next building phase begins.
“We are constantly planning, always assessing space,” she said. “We don’t think the time is right just yet (for a new office building). That’s something we study in real time.”
The growth is part of a strategy to become a regional referral hospital instead of attracting only from its immediate community. Already, the orthopedic program and CyberKnife robotic surgery equipment are attracting patients from out of state, Meeks said. The CyberKnife robotic radiosurgery machine treats harmful tumors and does not require an invasive procedure or anesthesia.
The existing emergency department will connect by a short hallway to a new cardiac catheterization lab on the second floor of the addition, which is being built on a hill. Fewer footsteps to wheel patients will improve the hospital’s already speedy times of inserting artery-opening stents in patients having heart attacks, Meeks said.
The first project to open, sometime next week, is a three-story parking garage – the first ever approved in the city that is not attached to a building.
Food storage and operations moved to mobile units on the campus to allow for demolition in recent weeks. The kitchen and bistro-style public dining areas should be complete in the first quarter of 2013.
Meeks said she firmed her belief that the hospital needed a larger kitchen – the 260-bed hospital is still served by the cooking space built when it opened in 1984 with just 90 beds – when she did a job shadow and watched cooks try to assemble trays elbow-to-elbow while she was loading the dishwasher.
“Our nutrition services staff is so excited they can hardly stand it,” she said.