Bartlett receives expansion approval

Same-day surgeries, orthopedics expected to grow, officials say

Posted: Thursday, December 11, 2008

State regulators have approved a further renovation and expansion at Bartlett Regional Hospital that's hoped will help boost business and keep patients in town.

"We're thrilled," said Bartlett Chief Executive Officer Shawn Morrow.

It will allow the publicly-owned hospital to expand its same-day surgery area, and add post-operative beds, which has been a bottleneck in the process for some time.

"It will mean more convenient scheduling for patients, and they'll be able to have their cases done a little faster," Morrow said.

State hospital regulators must approve significant hospital expansions to prevent duplication, and Friday they issued a certificate of need, after Bartlett spent months proving to them there was demand in the community that merited the expansion.

Most of the investment will be in renovation of Bartlett's third floor, the medical-surgical wing. The remodel will entail 6,500 square feet on the second floor and 5,700 square feet on the third, along with a new 350-square-foot entry alcove, according to information provided to the state.

The renovations will allow Bartlett to separate the medical and the surgical patients, which is considered the industry standard for best practices, he said.

Same-day surgeries with short hospitalizations are the future of medical care, said Dr. Bob Urata, a member of the hospital's board of directors.

"People don't stay in hospitals anymore after surgeries because surgeries are done with minimal impact on the body, laparoscopic surgery especially," he said.

The hospital has been recruiting doctors who do that, and the renovations at Bartlett will enable them to take advantage of that.

Much of that will be orthopedics, said Debbi Lehner, Bartlett's chief operating officer. That valuable business, especially privately paid orthopedics, has been increasing in recent years, she said.

"This is a great growth opportunity for a hospital like Bartlett," she said in testimony to state regulators.

Morrow said Bartlett hasn't been turning away patients, but hopes that with more convenient services more Juneau and Southeast patients will choose to have their procedures at Bartlett.

Morrow said the $8 million cost will be funded through operations over the next two years. With Friday's approval, Jensen Yorba Lott architects can begin doing final design work, he said.

Work is expected to begin next summer, with completion in 2011, Morrow said.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgeyat 523-2250 or e-mail patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.



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