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On Syringa Hospital, Clinics remodel: Improvements for a safer, more accessible care facility

Syringa Hospital has grown and changed to keep up with changes in our community and in health care. Grangeville General Hospital opened its doors in 1939, 75 years ago. In the 1980s, the patient wing along Main Street was added; in the 1990s the emergency department was added; and in 2006 the Idaho County Nursing Home was acquired from the county and remodeled into a primary care clinic. This growth and change must continue if the hospital and its clinics are to serve the health care needs of our communities.

These changes have not resulted in a coherent facility: It is difficult to get from the clinic, downstairs, to the lab or to radiology, upstairs. There is no patient elevator and the connection is a steep, narrow stairway that winds through uninviting utility areas. Wheelchair patients must go outside and around the building to get from the clinic to the lab or radiology. The sidewalk from the parking lot to the front door is too steep for easy wheelchair use. The emergency department entrance has become the de facto main entrance to the hospital creating a lack of privacy for emergency room patients and, at times, congestion and excessive noise in the hallway through the emergency department.

These conditions are amplified by changes in the demographics of our communities — we are getting older and less mobile. Health care payers are stressing outpatient care and shorter hospital stays, resulting in more follow-up visits. Easy access to the hospital and clinic and easy movement within the facility is getting more important.

Eleanora and Orrin Webb left a generous bequest to Syringa that is allowing us to address many of these issues. The Syringa Hospital and Clinics board plans to use these funds to add additional patient parking; upgrade the front and back entrances to allow easier access to the hospital and clinic; build a main corridor from the front to the back of the hospital to make movement within the hospital and clinic easy and convenient; add wheelchair accessible bathrooms; create new resting areas for doctors and nurses; and add and improve public waiting rooms. Future projects using funds from the Syringa Hospital Foundation and other sources will expand the clinic to provide better access to outpatient care.

The first major part of this project will be improving access to the front entrance of the hospital with a new driveway from Main Street, past the front door, to the expanded parking lot on the west side of the hospital next to “C” Street. A wheelchair accessible sidewalk from the parking lot to the front door will help wheelchair bound patients get from the parking lot to the front entrance. Why is this important? The emergency entrance will be closed to non-emergency traffic to provide privacy to emergency room patients and quiet in the emergency department. This will increase use of the front entrance dramatically. The new driveway will allow patients with poor mobility to get close to the front door before getting out of their vehicles—this is why the emergency room is such a popular entrance now. The new driveway will be accessible from either direction on Main Street and eliminate the need to park on Main Street to load or unload patients. Finally, the parking lot entrance on “C” Street will be made safer by closing the entrance too close to Main Street. Because of public input, we’ve dropped the idea of a covered awning at the front entrance, freeing up funds for other purposes.

Public input on this has been mixed—we will lose two trees and a large portion of the hospital lawn. Some feel that current access to the hospital is adequate. But our business is providing health care—that starts with getting people safely and comfortably into the hospital and clinic. The board feels this is an important beginning for this round of hospital renovation and that the entire project will improve the patient experience at Syringa Hospital and Clinics. We think you’ll agree as you see this project take shape and that the whole community will benefit from a safer, more accessible, and convenient health care facility.

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