NOCH Pulls Back 93M Renovation

August 8, 2003
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GRAND HAVEN — North Ottawa Community Health System has abandoned plans for a $9.3 million major hospital renovation so administrators and trustees can re-think future facility upgrades.

Upon further review of the plan that received state approval a year ago, President and CEO Mike Payne concluded that renovations to North Ottawa Community Hospital’s first floor were more cosmetic than needed and “and didn’t help us achieve our mission of providing high quality patient care.” When coupled with a recent analysis that shows North Ottawa Community Hospital needs infrastructure upgrades as well to its roof, power and utility systems, “it became pretty obvious we have to look at other opportunities.”

“We have to step back and reload,” said Payne, who was named North Ottawa’s CEO last November. “We can only do this one time with our resources and it’s got to be right.”

As planned the first-floor renovation was designed help visitors better navigate an inefficient and confusing maze of corridors, as well as generate operating efficiencies, improve coordination among staff and better integrate the adjacent Harbor Dunes Health Center into the hospital.

By planning to completely reconfigure the hospital’s first floor, North Ottawa also sought to provide additional space for the emergency department and growing outpatient services that now account for more than 75 percent of the health system’s revenues. North Ottawa’s Breast Evaluation Center, women’s health clinic and cancer treatment center all would have received far more space to handle growing outpatient volumes.

Following industry trends, the 81-bed, acute-care hospital’s outpatient volumes have grown steadily over the years, creating a need to build anew or adapt existing facilities to today’s health care environment and practices.

One of the problems with the renovation plan was that constant changes in the health care industry would have required North Ottawa to undertake a subsequent building program, said Ronald Zoet, chairman of the health system’s board of trustees. Given the situation, trustees decided to scrap renovation plan, take broader look at future facility needs and address them in a single project.

“The last thing we need is to rush into anything and have it wrong,” Zoet said.

The health system is now in the process of selecting a consultant to help develop a new facilities plan that North Ottawa will base on a long-term strategic plan that’s nearing completion and will provide the foundation for future facility upgrades and construction. The strategic plan, Payne said, envisions North Ottawa as a high-tech diagnostic and outpatient center with a complement of inpatient services such obstetrics and intensive care.

The earlier renovation plan didn’t go far enough toward accomplishing that goal, Payne said.

“It was too narrowly focused,” he said. “I just can’t justify spending that kind of money to make something look pretty that doesn’t improve its functionality.”

North Ottawa could put a new building program forward within a year for the hospital’s existing campus, Payne said.               

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