A new, much-larger Emergency Department has been on the to-do list for Yuma Regional Medical Center for some time, but to develop it, several other “make way” projects need to be completed first.
This makes it a lengthy and complex process that ultimately comes with a breathtaking $250 million price tag.
In the end, though, YRMC will have a state-of-the-art Emergency Department with more than three times the space of the current congested one — and room for the hospital to grow as the demand for services increases.
The plan is to start work on the site for the new ED by January 2014 and have the facility completed and ready to begin serving patients by the fall of 2016, said Pat Walz, YRMC president and CEO.
At 58,500 square feet vs. the current ED's 17,200 square feet, the new department will have increased bed capacity from 37 to 72 — with shelled space for future needs. It also will have adjacent radiological services for more efficient delivery of X-ray and laboratory services for the 77,000 people who visit the ED each year, said Walz.
The new ED will feature an elevated helipad that can accommodate two helicopters above a ground level entry for ambulances, central plant upgrades, parking and site enhancements and a full basement for expanded support services. And the building will be designed so floors can be added as more space is needed.
Reducing capacity or closing the current Emergency Department during a construction project isn't an option, Walz said. So the hospital intends to build a new ED in another location.
That is no simple matter for the landlocked hospital campus.
First, a location had to identified. That ended up being the east wing. Built in 1958, the wing is the oldest part of the hospital and the least efficient and most challenging area to maintain. Before it can be demolished, however, new homes have to be found for the services currently located there, among them administrative offices, Outpatient Services, Children's Rehabilitation Services and several hospital beds.
“It wasn't the easiest place to put it,” Walz said. “But it is the best place to meet our overall long-term needs.”
Putting the ED in the middle of the campus creates a lot of efficiencies, Walz noted. It provides easy access for patients and centralized access to the hospital's other services and beds if a patient is admitted. It also returns the ED to where it was when the hospital was first built, observed Machele Headington, YRMC vice president of communications and marketing, recalling a visit there as a little girl when her brother was sick.
With the new ED a few years away, an interim project increased capacity of the current ED in the area that had previously been the main entrance and lobby of the hospital, Walz said. Operating as an “urgent care” type service, the area is helping to ease overcrowding until the new ED opens.
Completing three shelled floors of the patient tower also was put on a fast track to provide more bed space to help alleviate congestion in the ED and to replace the beds in the east wing, he said. The fourth floor was completed in 2011, the third floor was opened this January and the fifth floor was opened last month.
Meanwhile, YRMC also turned its attention to development of a new cancer center to provide services in one location for the convenience of cancer patients and their families. The center will be located across the street from YRMC on property the hospital recently acquired from the Elks Lodge. The deal involved the hospital purchasing the former NCO Call Center, which it then traded to the Elks for its property at 2300 S. Elk Lane. The Elks will relocate its lodge to a portion of the NCO building and lease the other part to YMCA.
Groundbreaking for the new cancer center is expected to take place early this summer, with the new facility scheduled to open in the summer of 2014, Walz said. Children's Rehabilitation Services will be moved to a new building to be built in Tuscany Plaza.
A five-bed dialysis suite will be created on the second floor of the tower to replace the current inpatient dialysis in the east wing. And other patient services now in the east wing will be moved to the Women and Children's wing, with those renovations scheduled for completion by the end of this year.
To provide a new, consolidated home for administrative offices, plans are to demolish a metal warehouse south of the hospital to build a new support services building scheduled for completion by December.
Then there's the need for more storage space for the records now stored in the warehouse to be demolished, the management materials supplies that now occupy tight quarters at the YRMC Corporate Center and hospital equipment that had been stored on the third and fifth floors of the tower.
YRMC recently purchased the former Target building on 32nd Street, where it will create a new warehouse and lease the remainder of the space to Convey Health Solutions call center.
In addition, a three-level, 390-space parking garage will be constructed on the west end of YRMC, with the top floor to be level with and adjacent to the front door of the hospital. It is expected to be completed in December. It won't add significantly more parking spaces but will improve patient access by eliminating the challenges associated with the current slope and layout of the parking lot, Walz explained.
Also, a four-lane ring road will be constructed around the south side of the campus connecting to both 24th Street and Avenue to improve vehicular access.
“It's really only one project,” Walz said. “They're all leading up to the new Emergency Department.”