By ROBERT PIERCE
• Daily Leader
A special election on March 2 will decide the fate of a proposed bond issue to help with upgrades to Southwest Medical Center.
One of the primary areas the hospital is looking at remodeling is in its outpatient services, and vice president of operations Michele Gillespie said this will include a new reception desk for information and weight findings.
“It’s going to be designed for easy access to the gift shop, the cafeteria and the medical office building,” she said. “It’s going to be designed to segregate visitors from patients and staff traffic.”
Gillespie said SWMC’s current patient load is 72 percent outpatients, and combined with emergency room visits, this is 94 percent of what the hospital sees.
“When the tower was built in ’91, it was really designed for an inpatient area, but because of advancements in technology, we’re seeing more and more outpatients,” she said. “We’re going to design with that in mind for our future.”
Gillespie said hospital officials want to make the admissions area more private for both patients and visitors.
“It’s also going to be ADA compliant,” she said. “Our laboratory will have a draw station conveniently located right off the main lobby.”
The proposed upgrades will also allow the doctors to perform EKGs on the first floor.
“Right now, the patients have to travel to fourth floor to have that done,” Gillespie said. “Our whole design in mind is for service excellence to the patient. Instead of having a patient move through a system, the purpose is for us to move our resources to the patient for patient convenience.”
There will likewise be a light remodel on the second floor surgery, which Gillespie said will allow for use of a lobby elevator which currently does not stop on the second floor.
“The specific reason for that is the services are going to be centered around the patient,” she said. “We’ll be improving the comfort and the efficiencies in which the patient and the families are cared for on the second floor.”
Gillespie said waiting rooms will be designed for privacy and comfort.
“We’re also going to design a separate room for physicians to discuss your loved one’s care in private,” she said.
One of the largest capital purchases the hospital will look at is that of a new MRI. Gillespie said while SWMC’s current technology is still viable, it is no longer considered state of the art.
“Our current magnet is 10 years and has really kind of completed its life cycle,” she said. “We’re looking to purchase a 1.5 Tesla. We’ll be able to serve all of Seward County. There are some additional exams we’ll be able to do with that.”
Gillespie said when hospital officials look at purchasing capital, the objective is to look at several features.
“We always involve our physicians,” she said. “Our mission is really to serve the population of Seward County and the surrounding area.”
SWMC is a not-for-profit organization, and serving the area’s medical needs is the cornerstone and mission of the hospital.
“We want to work with our doctors in tandem to make sure what kind of patients are they seeing in their office, what kind of procedures or exams that they need and can we purchase and provide that service here so that patients don’t have to travel long distances to get that done,” Gillespie said.
With a patient count of more than 12,000 last year, the emergency room will likewise be expanded with the proposed upgrades.
“We currently have four exam rooms, and we have the capability of seeing six patients at a time,” Gillespie said.
The new footprint will allow up to nine private exam rooms, two trauma rooms, six rooms for exam and treatment and a dedicated OBGYN room.
“We’re also going to expand the nurse’s station, and the design’s going to allow for visibility of patients and provide for patients’ privacy,” Gillespie said.