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Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital begins expansion

November 2nd, 2007 · No Comments

Only two years after completing a $20-million project that added surgical space and imaging equipment, Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital in Elkin has started a three-year-long, $48-million program that will renovate and enlarge the hospital’s emergency room and intensive-care unit, put an addition on the cardiology center, upgrade the comprehensive cancer unit, improve the medical/surgical nursing units and eventually add 30 beds in a three-story patient tower.

A new laboratory will replace the existing facility last renovated in the 1970s. Already under way, that construction is to be completed early in 2008. In the coming months, the hospital also will relocate and improve its technology center and upgrade parking facilities, adding two surface lots. A new parking garage will be constructed by 2010.

Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital’s president and CEO, Steven Pennington, told the Elkin Tribune that the expansion is designed not only to expand Hugh Chatham’s services and capacity, but to maintain its community-hospital “feel.”

“We want to be able to expand services so that patients do not have to travel to receive health care,” Pennington said. “We want to make it convenient for patients to have excellent services and be able to do that right around the corner in Elkin with easy access to parking and to be cared for by their family and friends. We think with our current technology and commitment to excellence from all our employees we have a unique opportunity to blend these together.

“More rural hospitals are reducing services or joining huge hospital companies,” noted a representative of Alliant Management Services, which provides management services to the hospital, “but (Hugh Chatham Memorial) wants to stay independent and expand.”

“You get a sense of pride here,” said Tracy Byers, assistant hospital administrator. “They are proud of the fact that this hospital has been well taken care of over the years and has been pretty responsible financially. Now patients are deciding to go to the local hospital rather than drive to cities. People realize you don’t have to go to Winston-Salem or Statesville or Charlotte.”

The ER/ICU renovation is a need that has become urgent over the past two years, according to the HCMH Foundation, which is coordinating a fund-raising effort to support the improvement project. Emergency-room volume has increased at a rate greater than 8 percent annually since 2004 and is expected to total 23,000 . With a decline in the number of insured Americans, the trend locally, regionally and nationally is for more patients to use hospital emergency rooms rather than visit private physicians’ offices. The project at Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital will renovate 8,000 square feet of existing space and add 75,000 square feet to the emergency room.

Dr. Jim Harrell Sr., chairman of the hospital foundation, said, “Doctors and employees in both the emergency room and the ICU provide a high level of care. The ability to treat a greater number of patients through the expansions of these areas is reason for our community to thoughtfully and prayerfully consider their gifts to our 2007 annual campaign.”

National health-care analyses also indicate that Hugh Chatham Memorial’s primary service area will grow at a 5.5 percent rate over the next 10 years while the secondary service area is predicted to grow at a 1.3 percent rate. The population in the hospital’s service area, which includes Surry County, already utilizes the emergency room at a higher rate than the North Carolina or national average.

Tags: Construction · Health care

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