VDMC moves forward with access road

Van Diest Medical Center’s board of trustees approved a capital request for an access road, but tabled action on proposed emergency department renovations during a special meeting Wednesday.

The road addition would extend Fair Meadow Drive east past the new clinic building adjacent to the hospital to provide access to two plots of land to the east of the hospital.

“This road was something that the City required and discussed with the hospital when this facility was built,” Lori Rathbun, VDMC Chief Executive Officer said. “We had to have a connecting road from Fair Meadow to the east property. And so, it’s really something that should have been done at that time.”

Rathbun added that with two parties interested in the property to the east, now was the “appropriate” time do the project. The platting for the property is currently under review by the city, Rathbun said.

The board had tabled the matter at the January meeting, asking for more details on the costs. At that time, the estimated cost was $795,000. But after re-examining project details, the price came in $60,000 higher – $855,350.

Officials said the additional cost included testing and inspection fees along with the expense of relocating a power line.

With the additional costs, Rathbun told the board the project would have to be put out for bid.

Rathbun said that once the road is completed, it will be turned over to city ownership. Construction on the road is expected to begin sometime in May.

The board also received cost updates for a proposed project to renovate the emergency department admissions area. The cost estimate for the project presented in January was $125,00. Chief Financial Officer Alice Heinrichs told the board Wednesday that an updated estimate came in at about $101,000.

Heinrichs explained that the existing ED admissions area had sight line problems. Employees working behind the counter couldn’t always see patients arriving. Likewise, with the check in counter tucked behind a wall, patients often walked past admissions. The cramped admissions desk made the work space difficult for two people to work.

A 3P – People, Process and Placement – event was conducted and confirmed issues with the flow of traffic, sight lines and privacy, according to Heinrichs. The area was also tight for wheelchair access and the counter was much higher than the wheelchair level.

“This is definitely our busiest entrance,” said Rathbun. She added there were potential security issues as well.

The project would call for a wall to be removed and the admissions desk to be angled for better visibility. Privacy panels would also be installed, Heinrichs said.

Trustee Darcy Swon said that while she agreed with the rationale for the project, she was not ready to approve the project Monday.

“I just don’t know that with the clinic going up and the road going in – and I understand you have to put dollars in to get dollars back,” she said. “I personally don’t feel comfortable approving that remodel today.”

“I would look at this from a completely different view,” said Trustee Hank Witt. “I think the ER remodel is critical. We have 600 ambulances a month through the area plus all of the walk-ins. Do we step over dollars to save pennies?”

Witt added that we was concerned about the privacy and potential security issues.

Swon made the motion to approve the access road project and to table the emergency department admissions remodel vote until Tuesday night when the trustees meet in regular session. Two members of the board – Justin Deppe and Dave Taylor – were absent from the special meeting.

The board approved the road project along with a revised cost for a nurses station renovation project. The nurses station project, originally approved in September, will cost approximately $39,500. Work is slated to begin on that project on Monday, according to Rathbun.

The ED admissions renovation will be placed on the agenda for Tuesday for continued discussion.