• Last modified 2839 days ago (July 14, 2011)


Pain is part of progress at St. Luke Hospital

Managing editor

Renovations and expansions typically are not convenient for patrons, but the end result makes it worth it.

Currently, some of those growing pains are being experienced at St. Luke Hospital, Marion.

The first phase of the renovation and expansion project has been completed. Among the changes are new entrances.

A new main entrance has been constructed with the addition that houses physical therapy and the laboratory.

During the second phase, the emergency room is being expanded. While the entrance used by ambulance personnel is under construction, the former front entrance off South Freeborn Street is being used, causing some confusion.

Walk-in patients needing emergency services are also using the South Freeborn Street entrance. When the second phase is completed in October, the ambulance emergency entrance will be on the west side of the hospital where it had been before. Walk-in patients will continue to use the entrance from South Freeborn Street.

The project continues on time and under budget, allowing hospital officials to add items into the project that hadn’t been planned.

“We’ll still be under budget in the end,” said Jeremy Armstrong, chief executive officer.

Armstrong attributes lower costs to a sizable contingency fund that hasn’t been used. Officials determined a larger-than-usual contingency fund would be needed because they weren’t sure what obstacles and challenges they would face when they began to remove walls and scrape back the interior of the hospital to the bare walls. Typically, a contingency fund is 10 to 20 percent of the total project.

Knowledgeable architects and contractors also have helped.

“A lot of this has to do with good timing,” Armstrong said.

With the current economy, contractors are looking for projects, so competition can drive down costs as well.

The project was planned because hospital officials were faced with mounting structural concerns in the 60-year-old original hospital building. Much of the building was outdated and not handicap accessible. There were also concerns about the building’s infrastructure.

After years of the physical therapy department at St. Luke Hospital being in an area about the size of two hospital rooms, therapists and patients are now enjoying an area that is six times larger. The former space is being converted into a meeting room.

Patients now enter through a new limestone entrance, north of the former entryway. The physical therapy area is north of the new entry in a newly constructed addition.

A new laboratory is across the hall from the physical therapy room. The former lab space will be used for cardiac rehabilitation.

A reception area and reception desk also have been added.

Renovation has been completed for a nurses’ station, two operating rooms, and four outpatient recovery rooms.

In Phase I and IA, 10,000 square feet of new space was added, which included the therapy department, lab, operating room, front entrance and waiting area, and a walkway from the hospital to Marion Family Physicians’ building.

There was 5,000 square feet of renovated space, which included room for materials; a boiler room with new mechanical, electrical, and plumbing; and four outpatient rooms.

Phase II is underway and includes an expanded emergency room and five inpatient rooms.

In August, Phase III will begin and will include the renovation of administration offices and the dietary department with a new cooler and freezer and expanded dining room.

“Donations have helped the project by offsetting costs and the purchasing of equipment,” said Mike Norris, hospital marketing director and foundation director.

Although $1.125 million has been donated to the project, the foundation is still about $750,000 shy of the goal.

Tax credits are still available, Norris said.

“We’re anxious to get this done,” Armstrong said, expressing his appreciation to patients. “We’re trying to get through it as best we can and appreciate everyone’s patience.”

Last modified July 14, 2011