Renovations, Site Work To Begin at Blodgett

March 28, 2008
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East Grand Rapids officials are continuing to review Spectrum Health’s plans for the expansion and renovation of Blodgett Hospital.

A local landmark for most of the 20th century, the hospital will retain its special place in the East Grand Rapids landscape well into the 21st century, Blodgett President Jim Wilson said.

“We are hoping to begin construction in June of this year, and the new building open in September of 2010,” Wilson said.

Progressive AE designed an addition that features a tan masonry exterior, topped by a layer of glass and a roof with a deep overhang.

Construction Manager Brian Christman of The Christman Co., which also is overseeing the building of Spectrum’s Lemmen-Holton Cancer Pavilion, said the addition will blend well with the architecture of the 1976 building, which features dark metal panels. The original hospital was built in 1916.

“Our biggest challenge is, it’s an existing hospital in full operation and just making sure they can provide the full service the hospital is doing now at all times, and minimize the impact to the visitors, patients and communities there,” Christman said.

He said bidding was in progress for some renovations, which he anticipated would start prior to the summertime launch of site work for the addition.

In the meantime, meetings with planning and city commissioners are under way and could stretch into May, East Grand Rapids City Manager Brian Donovan said. The Planning Commission considers whether to recommend that the City Commission approve the site plan, he said. The City Commission will consider approval for the site plan, and will decide whether to designate the hospital, which is zoned residential and is surrounded by homes, as a special use.

Wilson and Donovan said three meetings with neighbors have gone well, covering such issues as traffic flow, landscaping, lighting and construction traffic. Wilson said neighbors from 88 addresses were invited.

“As we have developed plans, we’ve been able to include things they’re concerned about,” Wilson added. “They had some good ideas for us.”

The $51.7 million, 120,000-square-foot, five-story addition, to be built on the Wealthy Street side, or the northeast leg of the triangular acreage, will contain 140 private inpatient beds and four operating rooms, with room to add four more in the future. This part of the project also includes renovation and enlarging of 14 current operating rooms into 10. In a letter of intent under its certificate of need filing, the hospital indicates that bonds will be sold to cover those costs.

Wilson said that the opening of the addition will mean all 284 private inpatient rooms will be located in Blodgett’s most modern areas. Then renovations will begin in older areas to add offices. Outpatient areas also will be renovated, he said. No beds will be added.

“When the new building opens, that will allow us to have all of our inpatient beds be private rooms and be located in the 1976 and 2010 buildings. We still have inpatient units that go back to 1950,” Wilson said. “That opens up areas in the older building that will need to be renovated for other patient care. We have a significant ambulatory care, or outpatient program, here.”

The entire investment is expected to be $98 million. Also slated for renovation are the kitchen, cafeteria, lobby and public meeting spaces.

“A big portion is in infrastructure changes and renovations to existing buildings,” Wilson added.

Blodgett employs about 1,400 people, and is expected to add 400 more with the changes. The hospital is East Grand Rapids’ largest employer.

While a diagnostic cardiac catheterization lab was opened in March — after most cardiac services were relocated to the Fred and Lena Meijer Heart Center in downtown Grand Rapids, which opened in 2004 — Wilson said he anticipates no new programs at Blodgett, simply growth in existing ones.

“Very, very important to the future of Blodgett is the development of our medical staff,” Wilson added. “We are hoping to increase the number of primary care physicians that are utilizing Blodgett on a regular basis.”

Wilson said the hospital also hopes to find tenants for space now vacant in the adjacent professional office building.

In fiscal 2007, Blodgett saw 12,727 admissions; 6,928 inpatient surgeries; 4,264 outpatient surgeries; and 32,399 emergency room visits. HQX

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