Lawrence Memorial Hospital wants to grow, and Wednesday night the public got a chance to see in which direction.
More than 40 people attended a forum hosted by LMH and a consulting firm to introduce the master plan they have been working on since June.
"This shows an exciting future for our community hospital," said Robert Ohlen, executive director of LMH. "This plan was our chance to re-evaluate our position knowing the environment would be different than the previous decade."
LMH and Quorum, a Nashville, Tenn.-based company which was hired by the hospital to create the plan, polled residents of several counties as well as hospital staff about health-care needs.
"We were designed to be an inpatient hospital," Ohlen said. "But our statistics show the future to be outpatient, ambulatory based."
The poll showed that patients had problems finding the outpatient facilities currently at the hospital and that there was a need for an ambulatory-care clinic off the hospital site, Ohlen said.
THE MASTER plan also allows for grouping related departments to aid in efficiency.
"In the broader picture, corroborating programs makes a lot of sense," said Beth Ankerholz, Lawrence resident and employee of the Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center. "Whether it fits in here, still needs talking about."
According to Gary Dubas, an architect and project designer with Henningson, Durham & Richardson Inc., in Omaha, Neb., the master plan for the hospital incorporates the expansion of several areas including emergency and radiology, creating a mall-like area connected the two main entrances, the building of a new medical office building that would be attached to the hospital, and improved parking around LMH.
"This master plan is a general direction for growth," Dubas said. "There is a lot of room for remolding."
DUBAS SAID the master plan allowed for three separate construction phases: construction of the medical office building, improved parking and building the mall area; remodeling in the existing building; and expanding radiology and emergency areas.
There are also plans for building an ambulatory care clinic on the west or east side of Lawrence, said James Easter, Quorum's vice president of facility development.
Estimated cost of the entire project is between $38.5 million and $42.5 million over the next 10 to 12 years, according to the master plan facilities book.
The LMH Board of Trustees has begun a financial feasibility program to decide the capability of the hospital to finance debt over the next 10 to 12 years.
The hospital will come up with a price tag for the project and then decide which options they want to include, Ohlen said. "To choose the options first could be a financial disaster," he said.
"This is not a plan to be done in one month, one day or one year. Probably it's a plan for a decade," he said.