Article was written by Steve Hoogland and appeared in the Sioux Center News on July 21, 2010
Hospital moves into pre-planning phase
Co-chairs named, 13-member steering committee formed
The Sioux Center Community Hospital & Health Center Avera has begun the initial planning stages for the new hospital and medical center replacement.
Hospital officials recently have appointed a 13-member steering committee to assist the building committee during the "pre-planning process." The committee consists of physicians, employees, board members and community residents.
The move comes after the hospital's December 2009 purchase of 40 acres of land located on the eastern edge of Sioux Center near the intersection of B-40 and 13th Avenue SE for a new hospital and health center.
According to hospital chief executive officer Kayleen Lee, the pre-planning process involves looking at evidence-based design process, which is an approach to health care design that gives importance to design features that impact patient, health, well-being and safety.
Local community members Stan Speer and Larry Den Herder have been selected the co-chairs of the building committee. They are active in the steering committee's pre-planning process.
"We're looking at our vision for the future and our guiding principles as we try to identify what we will need and want," Lee said. "There are some choices to make with care-delivery models that drive design. The two pillars are the volumes and demographics."
Gorman Resources of Minneapolis, a health-care planning a design company, has been selected by the hospital to assist the Sioux Center health system in the preliminary planning stages. The company has worked with several health systems during planning stages.
Mary Gorman, senior medical planner with Gorman Resources, said that during the initial stages, planners look at functional requirements for staff to do work and the environment that impacts patient experience.
"When we do the work that we are doing now, the appropriate architectural partners can envision the functional requirements, the implementation and the book of business," Gorman said. "A lot of things must go on the plate in order to cut the ribbon."
Gorman compared the pre-planning phases for the eventual hospital to the hors d'oeuvres before a meal.
Local residents will have chances to participate with the preplanning phase during the next couple months with focus groups. "Women's health" and "birthing mom" focus groups will be meeting later in July. Other independent focus groups will be facilitated by Gorman Resources later this summer and fall and allow participants to describe the health-care environment that they envision and what features they desire.
Lee said that an exact number of focus groups has not been determined, but as the steering committee looks at the market-share and demographic information, they will be considering what groups to include in the process.
"We know that we want to include some general community focus groups," she said. "We'll want to include people who use our services and those who don't use our services and go elsewhere for their health care. We want to learn about why they go other places."
Nick Spring of Gorman Resources said that 80 percent of the patients served by Sioux Center's health system live within a 20-mile radius of the community so that it is the area that will be focused on during the process, along with Sioux Center and Hull areas.
Gorman said that the pre-planning isn't strictly for the future. Part of the challenge will be to incorporate what the planners are learning about into what happens right now.
"In an older building, workers tend to do their tasks with what they have," Gorman said. "The caregivers do marvelous things with what we have and we need to do as much as we can while we're here so that the new happens at the new building and not the old at the new building."
Some of that has already begun with processes like the lean planning which encourages efficiency and avoiding duplicity.
Lee said that planners want to spend as much time as is needed during the rest of the year or longer in the pre-planning phase.
"How often do you build a hospital - 50, 60 years or even longer?" she asked. "We've been on this site for 60 years as of June of next year. So it's an awesome responsibility to take this planning process seriously."
Spring said that right now, especially, planning is of the utmost responsibility.
"With some of the changes that are coming, like the passage of national health care, what we do is going to change," he said. "It means that we have to anticipate what that means so that we can design as much flexibility as we can without building too much cost into that. We don't want to build large amounts of space that we don't need and wonder what to do with it."
Lee said that another vital cog is designing with the platforms for coming technology.
"When you look at how things have changed in the past five years, we need to look at the direction," Lee said. "As an example look at airports today. When you check in at the airport, you go to kiosks. Just a couple years ago, you would go to desks. So we need to think about things even like registration areas. How will people check in in the future? Right now, we're doing on-line scheduling, on-line bill paying and those kinds of things. That all impacts us as we go forward."
Speer said that the hospital has been addressing concerns through the years. During the past decade, the addition of Crown Pointe and Royale Meadows addressed the elderly in the community.
"Mow we need to complement that by meeting the needs of the medical," he said. "the Crown Pointe and Royale Meadows facilities as state-of-the-art and we are now positioned to focus on this step."
Lee said that after the purchase of the property for the new hospital, the hospital board agreed to move ahead with evidence-based design and preplanning. Lee said that during this current stage no design work is underway.
Hospital leaders also are visiting other newer facilities and visiting with those leaders on what they like and don't like about their designs as those facilities begin to be used.
Lee noted that many people are wondering about a time frame for the new facility. However, she said that at this point, the full timeline hasn't been developed.
"This is important work to get done first," she said. "When we first began talking, we had decided that this year (2010) would be for preplanning. Any kinds of design work probably won't begin until next year."
The hospital is working through the details needed in order to reach the next steps. The steps also will include design work and schematics in addition to actual construction.
"One of the things we've tried to do is position ourselves so that when the stars are aligned, we're ready," Speer said. "Some of the components that need to be in place include fundraising, financing, design and construction."
Gorman said it is important that health centers take the time needed for the preplanning. She said that each community must "customize" its facility to it needs.
Future steps for the project include a feasibility study with the hospital foundation to determine a goal for future fundraising and a capital campaign.
"The first step for us it to listen to our customers," Lee said. "We're going through the focus groups to hear what the community has to say.
"I'm excited about this part of it," she added. "It allows us to look into the future and to implement things right now. This is important."
The health system plans on incorporating an online survey for those in the community that wish to participate but were unable to attend a focus group.
The 13 members of the steering committee are Dale Vander Berg, the president of the executive board; Speer, Den Herder, Lee, Marla Toering, the hospital's chief operations officer; Jackson Schuiteman, the chief financial officer; Mary McClung, the medical clinic director; Marilyn Vermeer, Nancy Renes, Dr. Gerald Van Es, Dr. LoriAnne Andersen, Ken Smit, the hospital foundation's director; and Matt Toering, the hospital marketing director.