Blodgett plancprompts hiring, president says

August 22, 2010
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Spectrum Health’s Blodgett Hospital in East Grand Rapids could hire as many as 50 to 75 people for the new inpatient wing that is slated to open in October, hospital President James Wilson said last week.

“With the opening of the new building, obviously we’ll need additional work force to manage and maintain that building,” Wilson said. “We’re probably in the area of 50 to 75 new positions as a result of the new building opening. Now we would hope, over the course of the next few years, that there are additional opportunities to expand the work force based on our clinical programs expanding.”

The hospital system is investing $98 million into not only the new section but also remodeling older parts of Blodgett and operating rooms. Construction began in 2008.

“It’s a recommitment to the East Grand Rapids community. Our strategic plan calls for Blodgett Hospital to be located here in East Grand Rapids for many, many years to come,” Wilson said.

Last week’s media tour is being followed this week by a tour for neighbors who own homes near the hospital, which opened in 1916 and is located at 1840 Wealthy St. SE.

Public tours are scheduled for 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sept. 25. The addition opens to patients Oct. 10 — “10-10-10,” Wilson noted.

The addition is 158,000 square feet and four stories tall, built along Wealthy to keep it contiguous to the 1976 building, Wilson said. “You walk floor to floor and almost don’t know you’ve gone from one building to the other,” he said.

With the addition’s 153 rooms and remodeling in the 1976 building, the hospital will have 284 private inpatient rooms in its newest sections, Wilson noted. Older areas, built in 1916, 1950 and 1960, will be devoted to outpatient services and other uses, he said.

“We have also done significant renovations primarily to the 1976 building,” he added. “We renovated all the nursing units in that building, brought in state-of-the-art equipment, technology and furniture.

“And we’ve done a significant amount of infrastructure work. For example, we rebuilt all 11 elevators on the campus. I’ve been very pleased that we’ve been able to do that type of work with little or no interruption.”

Even with the October opening of the addition, significant renovation work will continue for another 12 to 15 months, Wilson said.

With the opening of eight new operating rooms in the addition, work will begin to update operating rooms in the older section of the hospital, Wilson said. He said Blodgett is committed to keeping its full complement of 14 operating rooms open at all times.

“We’ll bring them up to state-of-the-art technology, and a couple of smaller rooms need to be combined,” he said. The hospital will end up with 18 operating rooms, but will use only the 14 as approved by the Michigan Department of Community Health.

“We are going to do a significant renovation of the kitchen and cafeteria,” Wilson added. “It’s probably been close to 30 years since we put any investment into the kitchen and café.”

The changes position Blodgett for growth in areas such as bariatric surgery, orthopedics, osteoporosis, spine and stroke, Wilson said.

“This puts us in position to have the building space and technology to transition other programs here. We’re very excited about that,” he said.

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