HMHP expansion seeks to bring private patient rooms to 3 hospitals

Humility of Mary Health Partners has unveiled plans to invest more than $203 million in new construction and equipment improvements over the next two years, moving the system toward its goal of all private rooms at all three of its hospitals.

Master facility plans for St. Elizabeth Health Center in Youngstown, St. Elizabeth Boardman Health Center in Boardman and St. Joseph Health Center in Warren were announced in late May in a news conference in Boardman.

The largest project on the list, at more than $100 million in capital costs, is the construction of a seven-floor, 122-bed patient tower at St. Elizabeth Boardman Health Center. Construction contracts for the 165,000-square-foot addition will be awarded this summer and construction will begin this fall.

Phase 1 of construction includes in the addition of four operating rooms, which will give the hospital a total of 10 surgical suites. When the first phase of construction is completed in the spring of 2014, HMHP will move the maternity services currently offered in Youngstown to Boardman. Also moving will be Akron Children’s Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at St. Elizabeth.

Obstetric and gynecology clinics will remain in Youngstown and maternity services at St. Joseph will not be affected by the move.

“The original hospital was built to support an additional patient tower,” explained Genie Aubel, president of St. Elizabeth Boardman Health Center. “But when we opened in 2007, we had no idea this day would come so soon.”

A demand for additional rooms at the Boardman hospital is one of the reasons for expansion. Floors four through seven in the new patient tower will be established as a mix of medical surgical and monitored units. They will open in a phased approach, beginning at the end of 2014 and continuing through early 2017, when St. Elizabeth Boardman Health Center will have a total of 250 beds.

Once maternity services are relocated to Boardman, renovations at Youngstown will begin in earnest to convert all patient rooms at that hospital to private rooms.

“We are taking a very close look at the services we provide to make sure we have the most appropriate services in the locations where they can serve the greatest number of people,” said Robert Shroder, president and CEO of HMHP. “This is balanced with making sure that people who do not live in high-populations areas and who may have limited transportation opportunities are still able to get where they need to be to receive the care they need.”

“The steps we’re announcing today will strengthen St. Elizabeth’s position as the central hub of Humility of Mary Health Partners,” said Daryl S. Cameron, chairman of HMHP’s board of directors. He pointed out that the system recently opened the Joanie Abdu Comprehensive Breast Care Center at Youngstown. Youngstown will also remain as the system’s Level I Trauma Center and will be the regional referral center for heart and brain surgeries and other high-risk procedures.

“Over the next 10 years,” Shroder said, “HMHP will develop centers of excellence in cardiovascular, primary care, oncology, neurosciences, orthopedics and women’s services. We will focus on outpatient services, primary care, wellness, geriatrics and care management to support the development of a healthy community.”

The master facility plan at St. Joseph includes immediate improvements to the hospital’s diagnostic radiology services and radiation treatment options for cancer patients. Plans are proceeding to expand the hospital’s free-standing emergency and diagnostic center at Andover in Ashtabula County later this year. Future construction at St. Joseph will also include additional patient rooms.

“It is our goal to have all private patient rooms at all HMHP hospitals within the next 10 years,” said Donald Koenig, executive vice president of operations for HMHP.

Cameron pointed out that in 2011, HMHP provided charity care in more than 99,000 cases at a cost of $26.7 million, a 12 percent increase over the system’s 2010 charity care cost.

“And this year, we’ve already seen increases in what it costs to provide care to those who either don’t have insurance at all, or whose insurance does not cover the care they need,” said Cameron. “By keeping a close eye on expenses, and with the help of the HMHP Foundation and its network of local philanthropists, we have made sure that funding is available to continue outreach programs and services that are crucial to the community’s health.”

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