Chamber treated to tour of HGH expansion

WINNEMUCCA — Chamber of Commerce members were treated to lunch and a tour of Humboldt General Hospital’s new addition on Tuesday (July 12) during the monthly membership luncheon.

Final touches were still being made even as community members toured the facility (shown).

HGH Administrator Jim Parrish addressed the Chamber and said, “We will have more access to health care than this community has seen before.”

Parrish reported there are about 1300 rural critical access hospitals in the country, and two different grade scales put HGH in the top 30 of those hospitals.  He added it was certainly one of the best financed.

Parrish said the expansion focused on function – as opposed to glamour.  He commented, “It was as well done as any I’ve seen without being over the top.”

There are nice finishes and wall coverings.  The art was provided by local artists.  However, as the goal was to provide expanded health care, the thing to brag about was the new telemedicine technology that will allow patients to consult with doctors from all over the US.

While technology will provide patients with more options, much of the expansion was intended to facilitate the old-fashioned practice of putting patients together with doctors and other health-care providers.

To better meet that goal, the addition includes a Walk-In Clinic to serve people for minor ailments if they don’t have a regular physician or are unable to schedule an immediate appointment with their physician.  Parrish said the clinic is currently receiving 650 visits per month.

In the past, people might have ended up in the emergency room if they did not have a regular physician, which drives up the cost of the care.

In addition to the Walk-In Clinic’s doctors, HGH recently hired three nurse practitioners to staff the clinic.

In terms of square footage, the biggest element of the expansion was the addition of the physician’s offices.  While there were some fears the new offices would go empty, and the big building would sit empty, that has not been the case. Seven of the eight doctor’s offices have been filled.  The eighth is being reserved for the residency program, which will bring doctors-in-training at UNR to HGH.

The residency program is still being organized, but Parrish said by 2013 they expect to have four doctors completing their residency at HGH.  That will include two second-year residents and two third-year residents.  The residency program is partially funded by a $560,000 grant.

When asked what would happen with the offices vacated by the physicians who moved into the new addition, Parrish said those offices were being rented by visiting physicians/specialists.

One of the aspects of the addition and remodel HGH is particularly proud of is the increase in patient privacy.

The addition comes with new admitting rooms, so everyone isn’t privy to everybody else’s private medical concerns.  Additionally, the ER is currently being remodeled and one of the new features of the remodel will be private admitting.

Parrish remarked of the old ER, “It looked like a bus station in there.”

The expanded HGH was more than a decade being realized.  A succession of Hospital Board Trustees came and went, but the vision for the expansion remained in place.

As Hospital Board Trustee Mary Orr noted, what they lacked for a long time was the funding.

She credited the leadership of Parrish for taking the hospital from being nearly in the red to having cash on hand to pay for the project, which cost $10.4 million.

HGH still has $25 million on hand.  It should be noted the addition is only the first of three phases planned for the future, which includes an expansion of the long-term care facility for the elderly.

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