Archive for Friday, May 7, 1993

LMH CHIEF SEES EXPANSION AS JUSTBEGINNING

May 7, 1993

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When Robert Ohlen, executive director of Lawrence Memorial Hospital, walks through the hospital, he sees more than bustling nurses and patients struggling to get well.

He also sees what could be: a medical office building gracing the south side of the hospital; a larger parking lot for all areas of the hospital; a westward expansion housing the business office and a centralized registration area; and a hospital with two major entrances, one on the west for the inpatients and outpatients and another on the east for visitors.

This is what Ohlen would like to see as a reality for LMH some day. And 1992 was the year the dream began to move forward.

``1992 was an example of a year where you start rebuilding your base for growth,'' Ohlen said. ``When people look back in history, they are going to see 1992 as the year LMH began a new stage of expansion.''

With feasibility studies, development contracts, a campus master plan and the support of the LMH Board of Trustees, Ohlen began to work on the reality of a hospital for the year 2000 in the year 1992.

For 1993, Ohlen has identified three main activities the administration and the staff of the hospital will be working on: the medical office building, the westward expansion and the community health care plan.

The medical office building is designed to adjoin the hospital, it will include office space for several physicians to lease from the hospital as well as supply some additional space for LMH.

``We'd like to see it ready for rental in 18 months,'' Ohlen said. In March, the board of trustees permitted Ohlen to hire the Graham Group from Des Moines, Iowa, to begin developing plans for the medical office building.

``They should have a template ready on May 20 that they can take around to area physicians to rate the level of interest in renting,'' Ohlen said. ``While that's going on, the construction documents should be rolling along.''

The Graham Group will hire a construction company to actually build the building, Ohlen said.

``It will have to be started in August or September, sometime, in that time frame,'' Ohlen said. ``It will be three stories tall unless interest in it grows beyond that, and then we'll have to go back to the board to get permission to proceed with a fourth story.''

Ohlen would like to see most of the office building rented out to area physicians.

``The only thing we're talking for sure is about half of the second floor,'' he said.

The gastroneurology services and chemotherapy would be moved from the hospital into the medical office building.

``We have some small labs which we are still prepared to move in if there is room, but not until we hear from the developer over what success they've had leasing out the building,'' he said.

The cost of the new building is estimated at $4.8 million.

Also on the 1993 construction agenda is a new parking lot south of the existing parking lot on the west side.

``We'll have to do that before we begin working on the medical office building,'' he said. ``The new parking lot will offer spaces taken over by the construction of the medical office building.''

Construction on the parking lot will have to wait until the outside air temperature remains constant at 70 degrees so the asphalt can set properly, Ohlen said. He said he didn't expect construction to begin on the project until late May or June.

Ohlen would like to see the continued development of the westward expansion of the hospital, even if it's only on paper.

``There is no actual construction expected on this in 1993,'' he said.

The westward expansion would include areas for the registration of patients, data processing, patient rehabilitation, business office, pharmacy and respiratory therapy.

``The expansion would include modest renovation and a majority of new construction west of the existing building,'' he said. ``We want to create a mall concept of people movement. So from the east side of the building visitors to the hospital would enter. And from the west side, inpatients and outpatients, with the exception of the emergency department which would still allow patients to enter from the south.''

The mall concept would also centralize patient registration so the registration areas wouldn't be spread out all over the hospital.

But construction isn't the thing Ohlen would like to see the hospital concentrate on this year, he said.

In March, the LMH Board of Trustees approved a plan to hire the Hospital Health Plan Corp. of White Bear Lake, Minn., to conduct a feasibility study and determine if LMH could develop and operate a community health plan. The plan would provide insurance as well as health care to local employers and individuals.

Hospital Health Care Plan Corp. would be paid $100,000 plus travel and other costs, not to exceed $125,000, for the study.

Ohlen said he'd like to see the study completed in six to eight months.

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