HEALTH CARE: Charlevoix Area Hospital mends growing pains

CHARLEVOIX – More residents, more tourists and more needs has translated into a $6 million renovation and expansion project for the Charlevoix Area Hospital.

As the region’s population has swelled, so has the demand for quality and accessible health care–and that’s just what the next two years of construction will deliver for thousands of patients.

The expansion project is the hospital’s largest building program in 30 years, and it will double the size of its emergency room, build a new state-of-the-art intensive coronary care unit (ICCU), double its obstetrical and family birthing facility and build the addition of a third floor to accommodate medical patient rooms.

“By continuing to have a strong, viable hospital that is current and has the best services possible for our community, we help to make the entire area stronger,” noted Rebecca Haney, vice chair of the Board of Directors for the hospital and chair of the Development Council. “(It makes the area) more attractive to other businesses, and it makes it more attractive for families who are thinking of moving here. It helps everyone.”

Help, this time, will come in the form of hammers and nails–the addition of much-needed space at the hospital. The emergency room will increase its patient rooms from two to eight, provide two large trauma units and add a family waiting room.

On top of that–literally–there will be a helicopter pad built to expedite life-saving measures. A drive-through emergency vehicle bay is also planned. Secondly, the ICCU will be expanded and relocated closer to the medical/surgical nurse’s station and a family waiting room will be added. More elbow room will be found in the obstetrics department as well–along with more room for wrinkled feet, soft hands and wiggling bottoms. Charlevoix Area Hospital opened the first single-room birthing center in the region in 1994 with four LDRP (labor, deliver, recovery and post-partum) rooms. Plans will double the rooms to eight and add a small lounge for the on-call physician.

Other improvements include the addition of a third floor that will increase the hospital’s current 44-bed capacity, more conference rooms for both staff and visitors, as well as space for several departments to expand.

“Charlevoix Area Hospital strives to remain current with the standard of care expected by our patients,” said Bill Jackson, hospital president. “We need to make these renovations in order to remain current in the coming years. To stay competitive and to offer our patients the services that they count on, we are continuously improving our facility, the services we provide, and the care we offer.”

Funding for the project has been spurred on by the Charlevoix Area Hospital Development Council, which consists of over 60 community leaders.

More than $1 million has already been pledged by area foundations, businesses and individuals. The hospital employees alone have donated $170,000, while the hospital itself has committed $1 million from its general fund.

Charlevoix Area Hospital is a not-for-profit hospital, and is seeking donations from the community. Gifts of more than $10,000 qualify the donor for the Bridge Builders Club, and gifts of more than $100 qualify donors for the Lighthouse Club. Donations are tax-deductible.

Further details on the hospital’s projects can be found at their Web site at BIZNEWS