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Mercy restarts $271M medical center project in Muskegon

Trinity Health approves plans for 267-bed facility on existing campus.

October 2, 2015
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Mercy Expansion
Officials expect construction on the nine-story patient tower on the hospital’s campus to begin next September. Courtesy Mercy Health

With the support from its parent company, Mercy Health Muskegon is looking to move forward with its extensive medical center project after announcing a delay in the plans last year.

Mercy Health Muskegon announced Sept. 24 its parent company Trinity Health has approved plans to construct a roughly $271 million, 267-bed medical center on the existing Mercy campus at 1500 E. Sherman Blvd., Muskegon.

The project has been in the planning process for more than two years and currently includes the construction of a nine-story inpatient tower and emergency department on the southwest section of the Mercy campus, and extensive renovations at the location.

The new medical center will bring all of Mercy Health Muskegon-area inpatient services to a central location and also will offer single-occupancy inpatient rooms.

The project also includes plans for urgent care services in the existing emergency department and an outpatient center at the Hackley campus. The Mercy Health general campus building will be sold, repurposed, or demolished, according to a press release.

Greg Loomis, president of Mercy Health Muskegon, said the organization was delighted to receive the approval from the Trinity Health board, and it is an important milestone for the organization, patients, physicians and the lakeshore community.

“It allows us to proceed. We have been planning for about two and a half years for this project,” said Loomis. “We slowed down a little bit a year ago when we announced a delay in our planning just so we could step back and make sure, with everything about health care reform and the changes in health care today, that this was the right thing to do.”

Mercy Health Muskegon plans to move forward with preliminary site work this fall and begin major site work in spring 2016, according to Loomis.

“We will be building this right next to our existing Mercy hospital, and the nine-story patient tower will be attached to the existing Mercy facility,” said Loomis. “We have to move a bunch of parking around and prepare for building this patient tower, which will begin in September of next year.”

The anticipated timeline for the project includes: renovations to the existing Mercy campus building beginning by July 2018; the new medical center shell and patient tower completed by August 2018; and renovations to the existing building finalized and the new facility fully occupied by June 2019.

Grand Rapids-based The Christman Co. will serve as the construction manager for the project.

Mercy Health Muskegon filed a Certificate of Need application July 1, 2015, with the Michigan Department of Public Health under an expedited review process, according to Loomis.

“It is my understanding we should be hearing back in early October on that. We don’t anticipate any sort of obstacle with that,” said Loomis.

“This is a big project for Muskegon, and we are excited for what this will do for providing health care in Muskegon. This is at least a 50-year or more decision and project.”

Mercy Health Muskegon initially proposed a roughly $96.7 million expansion project and relocation of acute care services to the Mercy campus in the spring of 2013, before announcing in February 2014 a decision to pursue approval for an approximately $220 million medical center.

The new plans included a greater focus on outpatient services, a new state-of-the-art medical center, and addressing concerns about space inefficiencies.

“We are excited about building the building, but we are equally excited about how we do what we do in that building,” said Loomis. “Again, for the last couple of years we have been moving forward with implementing our own version of a lean health care organization. We actually designed the building with those principles in mind.”

During the planning process, Mercy Health Muskegon used a strategic planning and management process for acute care facilities known as True North, which has roots in the lean philosophy used in the manufacturing industry.

Jeff Alexander, vice president of strategic integration and Mercy Health Muskegon’s lead executive through the facility planning and design process, said by using the True North or lean process, the organization has made a significant investment in the design process.

“The result will be a new and extraordinary medical center for the lakeshore,” said Alexander. “Large groups of patients, physicians and staff used lean tools to come up with the framework necessary to design the architecture for the medical center, which has patients as the central focus of the design. This enabled us to create a new care delivery model.”

Loomis said one of the principles of design was to minimize the amount of steps or travel time between procedures for patients by bringing the required equipment to the patient’s bedside and developing a universal care unit.

“This universal care unit can flex, just as the name implies. It may be weighted more to outpatient surgery use in the morning, flex to endoscopy or (catheter) lab in the afternoon and emergency in the evening. It is one of the designs that will be good for everybody, including physicians and our patients,” said Loomis.

“We are going to have a lot of processes to redesign that will come together as we move into this building.”

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