Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Weems to Begin $10 Million Renovation

Weems officials say the proposed $10 million renovation will take between
18-24 months to complete.

From Weems Memorial Hospital October Newsletter

Weems Memorial Hospital received the green recently to begin a $10 million renovation to replace aging infrastructure in the Apalachicola facility’s emergency, radiology and inpatient nursing departments. The Franklin County Commission approved the hospital board’s plans to  move forward with the major hospital renovation during its October 5 meeting. Now, hospital officials say they are ready to proceed with the details of the major overhaul of the 56-year old facility.

“We’re happy that the commission has allowed us to move forward,” said Weems CEO Mike Cooper. “We know there’s alot of work to do but we look forward to creating the best healthcare situation for Frankln County.”

Franklin County Commissioners originally lent their support to building a new hospital during June when Weems Memorial officials and representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced to Franklin County Commissioners that the county’s $10 million loan application was approved thus clearing the way to renovate the county’s existing 56-year old facility. The board was reluctant to pull the trigger on the loan in June because of worries over the financial viability of the hospital. Those concerns were allayed however with positive financial reports from the hospital CEO Cooper and approval was granted at the October 5 meeting to move forward on the project which is estimated to take 18-24 months.

“The hospital board is 100% committed to the success of the hospital,” said hospital board chairman Jim Bachrach. “We’re excited to begin working with the commission to make this project a reality.” The hospital renovation project consists of construction, and furnishing of 15,375 square feet of new construction and 11,250 square feet of renovations to the existing facility located two blocks north of US Highway 98 in Apalachicola.

The proposed plan calls for the replacement of the emergency department, radiology suite and inpatient nursing unit. The new facility will be constructed on the eastern side of the Hospital and include 10-12 private inpatient rooms with individual shower and restrooms, an emergency department with triage, four exam rooms and a radiology suite with CT and radiology/fluoroscopy rooms.. Procedure services will remain in the existing location with some cosmetic upgrades.  Also remaining in the existing facility will be pharmacy, laboratory, respiratory, physical therapy and dietary services. An expansion of physical therapy to include outpatient physical therapy is planned in the existing space.

Weems officials say renovations to the existing facility will be primarily cosmetic with the upgrade of flooring and painting of walls. A new replacement roof will be provided. With the movement of the emergency department, radiology suite and nursing unit to the new facility, minor renovations will be made to those areas to meet business occupancy needs. The current business office trailer is expected to be eliminate as those functions move into vacated space inside the existing building. The heliport will not be affected by the project and will remain in its current location.
The existing facility will be connected to the new building and will include hospital administration, dietary and dining services, loading dock and building services, sterile processing, on-call suite and additional outpatient service capability. Once groundbreaking is approved, the project construction/renovation is estimated to take between 18-24 months to complete.   

Weems Memorial Hospital opened on June 21, 1959 in its current location. But it was not Apalachicola’s first hospital. According to longtime Apalachicola physician Dr. Photis Nichols, Apalachicola’s first hospital was actually a renovated Army barracks building at the airport with 13 beds, a small obstetrical wing and operative suite. The hospital served the needs of the community from the time of its opening in 1948 until the completion of the new hospital with 25 beds at the present site in 1959.