Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

May 17, 2014

New DCMH fourth floor awaits a 'rainy day'

By Rob Cox Daily News
Greensburg Daily News

---- — GREENSBURG — On Wednesday morning, the Daily News took a brief tour of Decatur County Memorial Hospital’s (DCMH) recently-completed fourth floor.

For now, the new floor – completed in conjunction with DCMH’s Phase I construction project in 2013 – usually sits empty. On Wednesday, however, it was the site of the hospital’s annual Employee Expo, staged as part of the facility’s National Hospital Week employee celebrations (it was also the site of DCMH’s ‘Employee Recognition Dinner’ earlier this year).

DCMH CEO Linda Simmons thought the occasion an opportune time to tell the Daily News a little about the hospital’s lesser-known recent addition.

Floor four, Simmons explained, is an exact replica of the third floor, which opened with the facility’s new Medical/Surgery Unit in September 2013. The unused floor was constructed as part of Phase I, in large part, Simmons said, as a cost-saving measure. “It was cheaper to build now,” she explained.

The fourth floor is not merely identical to the third in layout, Simmons added, but also in the fact that’s it’s built to the same “medical-grade” standard, meaning it’s ready to house patients now, including all necessary electricity, plumbing and other necessities.

Simmons estimates that, by building the floor as part of the Phase I construction project, the hospital saved between $50 and $100 per square foot – of a total 15,000 square feet involved in the floor’s construction. Of course, those figures, the CEO stressed, are an estimate, assuming the cost of labor and materials remain identical at some future, hypothetical date to what they were in 2013.

Simmons agreed the structure could accurately be characterized as a “rainy day floor,” but anticipates it will eventually house an “out-care space,” with a clinical diagnostic focus. “There will be no overnight stays here,” she said. “That’s not the way healthcare is going.”

In her nearly four decades in healthcare, Simmons said, the industry has been marching toward more and more of an outpatient focus, in fact.

When Simmons herself started as a nurse, for instance, she said it was standard practice for a patient who’d just undergone open-heart surgery to spend an obligatory week in an ICU bed before considering further recovery.

In modern medicine, that same open-heart surgery patient will, generally speaking, be at home in around four-and-a-half-to-five days. The same outpatient shift, the CEO added, has occurred in many other medical specialties, encompassing a range of procedures.

For the time being, DCMH’s new fourth floor will remain empty, ready for patient use. According to DCMH Marketing & Communications manager Lynzee McDowell, the only certainty regarding the new floor’s opening date is that it won’t occur until after Phase II of DCMH’s construction project is completed.

McDowell, however, offered assurance that the structure will, at some future date, open for patient use. She offered further assurance that the funds for Phase II are “still in place” and will be used for their stated purpose. The timeline for Phase II, she added, has not yet been finalized by the Hospital Board.

The only certainty is that the new fourth floor won’t open until after the completion of Phase II. “Phase II is on our radar right now,” McDowell said.

Contact: Rob Cox 812-663-3111 x7011; robert.cox@greensburgdailynews.com