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Archive for Thursday, August 17, 2006

LMH eyes adding medical building to campus

Plan would put more doctors near hospital

August 17, 2006

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Planning and fundraising for a nearly $50 million expansion to Lawrence Memorial Hospital is going well, but hospital leaders already are looking at options for a new building project that would add more doctors to the LMH campus.

Hospital president and chief executive officer Gene Meyer told board members Wednesday that they will need to consider building a new medical office building on their campus at Third and Maine streets to accommodate physicians who want to be close to the hospital.

"Right now we have no available medical office space on our campus," Meyer said. "If a physician group wanted to locate on our campus, we would not be able to accommodate it. It ties our hands to some degree."

The hospital currently has a 40,000-square-foot medical office building near the southwest corner of the main hospital. It houses 25 to 30 doctors. Meyer said that hospital leaders who have developed a master plan for the hospital campus have determined there is enough room to add a similar-sized building near the southwest corner of the main hospital.

Meyer asked board members to consider adding about $250,000 onto the cost of the hospital's previously approved expansion to make it easier to run utilities to the site of the medical office location. Board members, though, stopped short of approving that expense.

Board president Donna Osness said that the board should be sure of whether it wanted to proceed with the medical office building before it started undertaking expenses.

Meyer said the hospital wasn't yet in a position to recommend that the hospital definitely undertake the project. He said cost estimates would need to be developed, and the hospital would want to explore the possibility of partnering with private developers or interested physicians in constructing the building.

The issue likely will come back up for further discussion this fall. Construction work on the first phase of the expansion is expected to begin in late September or early October, Meyer said. The first phase will be the construction of 18 new private rooms above the second floor of the hospital's western wing. Other parts of the expansion include a new emergency room, surgery suites, birthing rooms and improvements to the intensive care unit.

The hospital has launched a capital campaign to help fund about $8 million of the expansion. Fundraisers continue to be pleased with the campaign. Thus far, just less than $6 million has been raised.

Eudora purchase

In other LMH news, board members:

¢ Agreed to move forward with the purchase of 21 acres of property in Eudora at the southeast corner of Kansas Highway 10 and Church Street. The board had previously given hospital leaders permission to close on the purchase of the property, but Meyer brought the issue back to the board to discuss challenges of how to provide sewer service to the site.

Board members, though, directed Meyer to finalize the purchase of the property, which will house a doctor's office and potentially other medical offices. Meyer said design work now would begin on the project, with construction perhaps starting in late 2007.

¢ Agreed that the hospital should be gun-free in the wake of a state law that will allow residents to carry concealed weapons. The state law, which comes into force in January, allows businesses to post signs prohibiting patrons from carrying concealed weapons.

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