Hospital Expansion Has Alliance OK

April 12, 2004
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HOLLAND — A $45.7 million building program to expand and upgrade Holland Community Hospital should pass its first regulatory hurdle this week when a local review panel considers the project.

Staff at the Alliance for Health is recommending endorsement of Holland Community’s plans, which include demolishing a 77-year-old wing on the east side of the hospital campus, expanding the emergency department and constructing a new patient tower.

The strong population growth in Ottawa County and rising patient volumes at the hospital support the need for the project, Alliance for Health President Lody Zwarensteyn said.

“Their expectations of growth in that market, who’s going to argue?” he said.

The Alliance for Health’s Evaluation Board, which reviews major capital projects of health-care providers in West Michigan and recommends approval or denial to the state, meets this Thursday in Grand Rapids. The panel’s recommendation will go to the Michigan Department of Community Health, which has until June 1 to decide on whether to issue a certificate of need for the project to proceed.

The combination of new construction and renovations to existing units would provide Holland Community more space for the emergency department and inpatient units to handle growing patient volumes, as well as accommodate evolving medical technology, relocate several medical services, and improve the accessibility and the flow of patients, staff and visitors through the hospital campus.

The work would occur in phases over a three-year period, Holland Community Hospital CEO Dale Sowders said.

The project, scheduled to begin this year with occupancy targeted for June 2007, should take the hospital eight to 10 years into the future before additional space is needed, Sowders said. The building program is based on present growth trends within a market that stretches from Grand Haven on the north and South Haven to the south.

“What you see here are the most pressing (needs) and what financially makes the most sense to do at this point in time,” he said during a recent Alliance for Health public hearing. “Holland Hospital has just evolved to having a regional draw, so we’re trying to position to continue to accommodate that.”

Visits to Holland Community’s emergency department, after growing 40 percent over a four-year period to 48,579 during the 2003 fiscal year, are projected to increase to nearly 57,000 by the third year after the expansion is complete, according to the hospital’s certificate-of-need application.

Inpatient admissions are projected to grow from 9,145 in FY 2003 to 11,546 within three years of the project’s completion, with the occupancy rate going from 38 percent in FY 2004 to a projected 45 percent in 2008.

Outpatient volumes are projected to grow from 970 per day in 2003 to 1,118 daily by 2008.

Plans submitted to the state propose expanding the hospital’s emergency department from 17,000 square feet to 29,000 square feet and increasing the number of emergency treatment rooms from 12 to 25. The 205-bed hospital would relocate 30 critical-care beds to a new inpatient wing planned on the east side of the campus to replace the hospital’s older section that was built in 1927 and is slated for demolition, plus undertake renovations to the existing inpatient bed tower and the women’s and children’s units.

The project comes after Holland Community spent $27 million during the mid-1990s to expand the emergency department and outpatient facilities. The hospital will finance the new project through the sale of 30-year bonds.   

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