Hospitals, particularly rural facilities, often find that phasing provides the best possible option to expand and/or update while keeping an eye on the bottom line. When a community can’t quite swallow the cost of a new hospital, particularly as construction costs continue to rise, JJCA's healthcare practice leader, Stephanie Pielich, says phasing into bite-size chunks that can work toward a master plan makes funding easier. Each newly opened phase can be used to fund the next. The key for designers using a phased approach is to be sure the hospital remains “whole” at the end of each phase.
Sometimes it isn’t just cost, but also community politics that make investing in an existing hospital more palatable than a new build, despite possible site constraints. People, especially in rural communities, like the security of going where they’ve always gone, particularly if they feel like the facility has been consistently updated to provide the services expected at other modern facilities. In the case of River’s Edge Hospital in St. Peter, Minnesota, the city is a co-owner of the hospital and it was imperative that they leverage past investments in their existing facility. However, renovation/upgrades were needed to maintain momentum resulting from increased volume in the new surgery department and level of convenience for emergency care in the community. Expanding on an existing site can be tricky and it is critical for designers to plan properly not only for current but future growth. River’s Edge is in the process of implementing a nine phase master plan addition/renovation to achieve its growth goals, while offering a high level of care by maintaining continuous operations throughout the process.
It is imperative to understand the funding approach when developing a master plan as there are many ways to reach the same goal. Designers can be instrumental in developing a path to the ideal master plan solution that is consistent with the funding approach. Pretty is as pretty does and a beautiful design is not helpful if it cannot be built within the available funding. At JJCA, we love the challenge of fitting the building and financial pieces together to solve even the most challenging puzzles in a way that ultimately contributes to our clients’ bottom line.