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Hospital board discusses ER upgrades, renovation

by Eric Mullens
WALSENBURG — County Hospital District Board members met in a work session Monday to discuss the ongoing topic of possible renovations to the facility’s emergency medicine department.
The board and administration met for slightly over two hours but did not make any concrete decisions regarding the possible project.
Spanish Peaks Regional Health Center CEO Todd Oberheu said space and privacy issues along with the number and size of treatment rooms are the main areas of concern for the emergency department. At a meeting on Dec. 8, 2011, Board Chairman Dr. R. David Zehring said, “We need to open up the emergency room department. The ER is a very foreboding experience, with steel double doors and no human contact, just an intercom.” We need to open it up so the patient and family members have eye contact with staff, he said.
As currently configured, the emergency room has no waiting area and those seeking treatment must contact staff through a telephone. “There is just no room for growth in the ER,” Oberheu said.
The board heard a fairly detailed presentation in early December by members of Neenan Archistruction of Fort Collins that covered a number of renovation and new construction ideas that were not just limited to the emergency department. Oberheu said if the board does act in the future on any kind of project, he feels it will be limited in scope and scale and would include just the emergency room area.
He said the board discussed various options but would be looking at a project that addresses two to three main areas of concern. First off would be the entrance and environment of the emergency room. This would allow for human contact with medical staff upon entrance to the facility. The other main issue is the size of treatment rooms. Currently there are three rooms, a main trauma room and two smaller treatment rooms, which do not offer the patient privacy the board would like to have, nor the space to handle multiple trauma cases.
Oberheu said the board’s discussion centered on a possible renovation project and would not necessarily mandate new construction.
He said the board would be looking at a $2 million or less project.
Some of the concepts presented in December went into the $5 to $10 million area.
Oberheu said the board did discuss possible financing options, and were looking more towards a 30 to 50 percent cash outlay and a 15-to-20-year mortgage to pay for the project. He said the board did not think a bond issue would be the best choice to finance this kind of a project.
In addition to the drawings that have been presented by Neenan, Oberheu said the board will be inviting concept (or bubble drawings) from other architectural firms that may include the company that has been the lead designer of the ongoing renovations to the Colorado State Veterans Nursing Home.
Being a work session, no final action was taken during the Feb. 6 meeting.