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Dominoes falling into place at HaysMed

By KALEY CONNER

kconner@dailynews.net

The skyline of Hays Medical Center has changed dramatically with the addition of a new, four-story office tower on the hospital's south side.

The $18.5 million addition, dubbed Bickle Family Tower, is expected to be occupied by April. The space will house administrative and physician offices and the cardiology clinic, and will provide room for further growth.

That expansion began a "domino effect" of sorts, said Dale Montgomery, vice president of support services. As offices move to the new tower, other departments are taking the opportunity to grow and enhance services.

It's hoped the new addition will absorb future space needs and be the last significant construction project for many years, Montgomery said.

"All of our patient care services we eventually would like to have under this roof," he said of the hospital building. "This pretty well meets the mark for us."

Breast Care Center

When administrative offices move to the new tower, HaysMed's Breast Care Center will be relocated to the main hospital campus from Oak Park Medical Complex.

This move will enable patients to receive comprehensive breast care in one location, said oncologist Dr. Anne O'Dea.

"It will make it less stressful for them than having to travel between different locations, or see their doctor in one place and (have) imaging in one place and then having to go to another place for a biopsy," she said. "I think that's going to really improve the quality of care, as well."

Breast cancer treatment is a multidisciplinary approach, and the move will enable all of the doctors involved to communicate faster, she said.

A space located on the hospital's main floor will be designed based on the clinic's specific needs.

Patient volume has been increasing steadily since the clinic opened in 2011, and more staff likely will be added, O'Dea said.

The move is expected to happen in November.

Dreiling/Schmidt Cancer Institute

The north side of HaysMed also is undergoing a face lift. Work is under way to give the cramped Dreiling/Schmidt Cancer Institute more space.

The renovation will result in a remodeled entry and waiting area, as well as more nursing stations and exam rooms.

The number of treatment rooms also will increase, which is expected to benefit patients, said Dr. January Fields-Meehan, a medical oncologist. As patient volume increases and chemotherapy treatments become more complex, there have not been enough rooms to meet demand.

"The treatments have gotten much more complicated, and so the patients are in the treatment rooms for longer periods of time," she said. "It's made it that we need more room time, which means that we need more rooms."

The space also will be designed to accommodate enhanced technology and more computer use, she said.

Construction is expected to be finished in approximately a year. Some cancer services will be relocated temporarily in coming months to speed up the process.

"I think it will be very exciting for the patients and for our staff," Fields-Meehan said of the renovation. "They're looking forward to it."

Women's Center

HaysMed's current birthing center was designed for a maximum capacity of 500 deliveries. In recent years, the number of babies born each year has swelled to 750.

The hospital attracts patients from a wide coverage area as some facilities have discontinued obstetric services. HaysMed also is able to care for high-risk mothers and babies, said Celeste Gray, director of women and children nursing services.

The renovations will add a labor room -- the four labor rooms available often are full, she said.

An exam room will be added to evaluate patients who might not need to be admitted to the hospital, and a second operating room will be available for Caesarean section deliveries.

"That will be much more patient-friendly," Gray said, noting patients in labor sometimes have to be sent through the hospital to another operating room.

HaysMed's neonatal intensive care unit also has been remodeled. Previously designed as one large room, the unit has been divided into two separate spaces -- one for sick babies and another for babies who are growing and feeding well. A procedure room also has been added.

This will allow families to spend more time with their NICU babies.

"Before we had to really limit our visitation, because right next to a grower/feeder might be a sick baby, so it made it very limited on what we could do," she said. "It's going to be a lot more patient and family friendly."

Emergency department

With the goal of enhancing patient privacy, the number of treatment rooms in the hospital's emergency department has increased from eight to 13.

The number of ER patients is increasing nationwide by approximately 2 percent each year, and there weren't always enough private rooms available. Some patients were treated in the hallway during times of high volume, said Dr. Marshall Eidenberg, chief of the emergency department.

"It will improve patient privacy and patient comfort, so that's some of the opportunities," Eidenberg said.

The remodeled space will offer other ways to enhance patients' experience.

"Not every patient needs to be in a hospital bed, so we are looking at maybe making a room or two more of a recliner room rather than a full-blown patient bed," he said.

The department also will be enhanced for quicker check-in, and security officials will be located near the entrance.

The department, which was relocated temporarily, moved into the expanded area in late February.