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CEO Update: Why CMH is building a hospital expansion

The hospital expansion is essential to the future sustainability of CMH. We have great physicians. We have a great staff. We have everything we need to provide the highest quality health care.

The Douglas Medical Center is state-of-the-art, and we have new clinics and facilities throughout our service area. It was time for us to come back home to the core of the hospital and upgrade those facilities. We’ve been studying this idea for more than a decade and knew this was the moment for us to move forward. Some of the considerations for the project include:

  • It is critical that we expand our Emergency Department. We need adequate space for our patients in the ED. We did a study in 2018 that showed our Emergency Department was 30% too small for our patient volumes. Since then, all we’ve seen is growth. We’ve seen a 15% growth in our volume between the first quarter of 2023 and the first quarter of 2024.
  • We need another cath lab to care for heart patients. We currently have one cath lab with state-of-the-art equipment, but it’s in a temporary facility. We need room for two adequately sized cath labs closer to our Emergency Department. We have a 24/7 STEMI center, and minutes make a big difference. Seconds make a big difference with a STEMI diagnosis.
  • An expansion of any size would be very costly. If we were to add one more square foot to our building, we would have to upgrade our whole infrastructure — our power, HVAC and boilers. That would have been an investment of millions of dollars into this building. With this expansion, we will have all new infrastructure for the entire facility.
  • It made sense financially. Recent debt retirement and our U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development partnership made it financially viable.

It’s the right time, and it’s the right project.

Continue reading or watch these videos — Why CMH is building a hospital expansion and April 2024 Construction Update — to learn more about:

Additional benefits of the expansion

The expansion includes essential elements for emergency care. It will also have private rooms for patients in our Medical-Surgical Unit. Our Intensive Care Unit will go from eight beds to 16 that are ICU capable. We learned during the pandemic that we didn’t have enough ICU space. This expansion will meet our needs for the future.

The labor and delivery department gets a new C-section suite and expands to nine labor, delivery, recovery and postpartum rooms. Last year, we had 525 births. We’re projecting that that will continue to grow in the future.

The expansion also has some unfinished space for future growth.

Basically, we will have a new hospital here in Bolivar. It will meet our current needs and for the foreseeable future as we look ahead over the next 40 years. We’re excited about what this is going to bring to our patients. The growth is going to be essential for CMH’s viability in the future.

What’s happening now

You’ve seen the trucks in the north parking lot. We will complete the permanent parking lot expansion on the north side by the end of April. When it’s finished, the lot will accommodate more parking and improve traffic flow. The new entrance improves visibility when entering and leaving our campus. If you look to the north or the south, you can see a lot farther than you can from any of our other entrances.

Our temporary kitchen and temporary dock will be ready to go in May. Right next to our community rooms, you see our temporary kitchen unit. That’s where our nutritional services team will prepare meals for patients and employees. The Community Rooms will be our new dining facility during our construction period.

The pedestrian crosswalk on Hwy. 83 is moving to the north to avoid the construction area.

What’s happening next

We’re looking forward to moving the cafeteria operations during the first part of May. That means April 28 is our last Sunday buffet in the current cafeteria. We will transition to our mobile kitchen unit around May 4 and 5. Our cafeteria will be available to the public in our new location on the north side. The current Community Rooms will be our dining rooms, and we’ll be able to serve the public after May 5.

We’re moving toward demolition day on the south side of our campus. Two buildings have to come down for us to build the new tower. We will remove the cafeteria, the dock area and the old HR building south of the cafeteria. The demo is going to happen around the middle of May. We have an exciting event planned to celebrate the demo and the start of our tower construction. That employee event is during Hospital and Long-Term Care Week. More information will be coming soon about our celebration for the next phase of our project.

I know this brings a lot of headaches. You have to change parking spaces. You have to walk further to the building. To some degree, you have to work around construction for your day-to-day work. I appreciate everybody’s patience and working with us. It’s worth the inconvenience. When we get into our new building, it will allow us to grow and meet the needs of our community.

Where to find construction updates

You will start seeing some new construction updates in several different locations:

These are exciting times for CMH. We’re continuing to grow to meet the needs of our community. I thank all of you for the work and the sacrifice you make every day to ensure we’re providing the highest quality care, the safest care and the best experience for our patients.

Michael Calhoun shares the latest happenings at CMH in his monthly CEO Updates. He is the CEO/executive director of CMH and the Citizens Memorial Health Care Foundation.

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