Archive for Sunday, October 4, 2009

New space gives LMH departments room to grow

Chris Knowles, a medical technician and head of the hematology section, views a sample through a microscope in October 2009 in the laboratory at Lawrence Memorial Hospital.

Chris Knowles, a medical technician and head of the hematology section, views a sample through a microscope in October 2009 in the laboratory at Lawrence Memorial Hospital.

October 4, 2009

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LMH adds cardio center

Lawrence Memorial Hospital has expanded, and will soon have its own cardiovascular center. Enlarge video

Lawrence Memorial Hospital intends to move its cardiology practice to the second floor of the new medical building at the northwest corner of Fourth and Maine streets.

The move would put the cardiologists closer to hospital’s intensive care unit.

“Having cardiology attached to the ICU is a great location for them,” said Gene Meyer, LMH president and CEO, adding that it’s like putting obstetricians next to the maternity unit.

Cardiovascular Consultants is leaving Lawrence, and four cardiologists are forming a new LMH-affiliated practice called Cardiovascular Specialists of Lawrence.

The 46,000-square-foot medical building also will house the anticoagulation clinic, which opened in the spring. The clinic is used by patients who need to monitor their blood-clotting levels; such patients might have congenital heart defects or valve replacements or have had complicated surgeries. Often, these are patients served by cardiologists.

And after the first of the year, the 36 employees of the IT department will occupy the bottom floor of the new $6.2 million building. Currently, the employees are in at least three locations. One site is off the main campus and in leased space.

“At this time, those are the only spaces in the medical office building that are spoken for,” Meyer said. “We anticipate that there will be movement of additional services or medical practices.”

Heart of hospital

A new $14 million surgery department opened March 16, which left 14,000 square feet open in the heart of the hospital.

The hospital likely will expand its laboratory, which is next door, into a big chunk of the space. The lab hasn’t been renovated or expanded in at least 20 years, Meyer said, and it shows.

“We are well-renowned for our beautiful aesthetics in the laboratory. We have yellow floors. We are kind of like the yellow brick road,” Connie Broers, administrative lab director, said, chuckling.

Broers described the workplace as “very crunched.”

In her nine years, the lab’s volume has more than doubled. The lab handles about 500,000 tests annually for the hospital, area doctors and others.

“We are very outdated as far as workflow and layout,” Broers said. “We like to call it the old rat maze.”

Broers has her fingers crossed that the laboratory, which has 60 full-time employees, will be next in line for expansion and renovation.

But Meyer said it’s not a done deal.

Besides expanding the laboratory, the hospital also is considering relocating the Pain Management Clinic and Endoscopic Center from LMH South, at the southwest corner of Clinton Parkway and Kasold Drive, into the space. The pain clinic serves about 3,500 patients per year, while the Endoscopic Center provides care to about 2,900 patients annually.

The move would enable doctors to be more accessible — about 15 minutes closer — to patients in the hospital.

“We are looking at the plans right now and we will be working with the physicians to get their OK,” Meyer said. The plan is to make a decision at the November board meeting.

If the clinic and center are relocated, Meyer said there are no plans for what the hospital might do with the vacated space. The hospital has four and a half years left on its building lease.

Community outreach

This summer, LMH added 1,200 square feet of space to its medical building in Tonganoxie. It also hired Dr. Elizabeth Beal, who in August joined Dr. William Weatherford at Family Medicine of Tonganoxie.

The expansion doubled patient examination rooms from three to six, and added an office for Beal and storage space.

“I just really liked the people and everyone was very welcoming,” Beal said. “I just like the small community feel and thought it would be a good fit. I grew up in a small town, too, so I kind of gravitate there.”

The hospital also hired Dr. Mickelle Hirschman to join Dr. Kevin Hughes and fill a growing need at Family Medicine of Baldwin City.

In Eudora, the city is reviewing the hospital’s plans for a 10,000-square-foot medical office building that can house up to three doctors, as well as radiology and physical therapy services. LMH plans to lease some space to a retail pharmacy. Dr. Daniel Dickerson — who works in an office downtown — would move to the new building. The hospital is recruiting a second family physician.

Woody Park

When Pinckney Neighborhood Association received word this summer that the hospital was considering turning nearby Woody Park into a parking lot, it raised concerns about the park’s historic significance.

The land for Woody Park was purchased by the city in 1936 and named in honor of Elgin Woody Sr., a Lawrence resident who organized baseball and softball leagues for minority children.

Meyer met with concerned residents during a meeting in August.

“There were a number of good questions raised at the meeting,” he said, adding that the hospital hasn’t made any decisions about the park. He said the next step likely will be more public meetings.

He said hospital leaders are aware of Elgin Woody’s importance to the city and want his legacy to continue.

They also are aware of an approaching parking problem.

“We are projecting in the next three to five years more demand in parking on the main campus, and looking at the options and the prudent way to spend the hospital’s resources — a parking garage versus surface spaces is really a dramatic difference,” Meyer said.

“We want to appease all parties and do the right thing, and so we are looking at all the options.”

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