Margaretville Memorial Hospital seeks to expand emergency department

Renovation plans for entire hospital are under study
By Brian Sweeney
Due to increasing demand, Margaretville Hospital has applied for permission to expand its Emergency Department.
The hospital has filed an application with the NYS Department of Health (DOH) seeking approval for enlarging the Emergency Department. A reply is expected within 60 days. If the DOH approves the project, the renovations would take about 30-45 days to complete. The bulk of the work would involve upgrades to the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.
Chief Executive Officer Ed Morache said the expanded Emergency Department would move into the space currently utilized for ambulatory surgery, which would be relocated to a more efficient area. The renovations would increase the amount of space for patients needing emergency services and an improved floor plan would allow for improved privacy. The location would also allow for easier accessibility.
Mr. Morache said the hospital board is pursuing the expansion of the Emergency Department because of increasing demands for emergency care. He noted that in 2007, the hospital treated 4,375 patients for emergency cases.
The change-over is expected to cost approximately $60,000. The CEO said that “generous contributions from the community” will cover the cost of the upgrades.

Improved efficiencies
As is the case with health care providers across the country, Margaretville Hospital is looking at all phases of its operation to determine ways to improve efficiency without compromising patient care.
Mr. Morache said that surgery is one area where adjusted schedules have been put into place. Because operations are performed in relatively low volume numbers, days when operations are performed have been consolidated. This allows for more efficient staffing, he explained.
The CEO pointed out that Margaretville Hospital’s affiliation with Kingston and Benedictine hospitals (via a recent association between the latter two), is another means of achieving improved services locally.
Mr. Morache said that innovations such as “telemedicine” allow Margaretville Hospital patients 24-hour access to information and technology, such as X-ray interpretations. A new program that allows an off-site doctor to make medical determinations for stroke victims “enormously increases the chances of recovery from a stroke,” he explained.
Such shared services offered through the affiliation have benefited Margaretville Hospital patients while the rural facility has kept much of its autonomy.
“We have really maintained our independence,” Mar-garetville Hospital Board President Carey Wagner pointed out.
“The partners have made a point of keeping us independent. MMH has a chair on the parent company board - we’re really equal partners. People were afraid that MMH was going to loose its identity. I really don’t see that happening.”
Mr. Wagner also said that MMH is working to further strengthen its ties with the local communities.
“We’re revitalizing the hospital Foundation and enhancing our relationship with the auxiliary,” Mr. Wagner stated. “MMH is important medically and economically and we want community involvement. If people have ideas we want input,” Mr. Wagner invited.

Complete renovations
On an even larger scale, the hospital board is studying a complete renovation of the hospital building. Constructed in 1969, the facility is in need of considerable updating.
Mr. Morache said the board originally was contemplating a plan to raze the facility and build a new hospital. Further exploration has revealed that it would be more cost-effective to renovate the current structure.
He said that an architect has been hired to create a master plan for upgrading and modernizing the hospital. The plans will be developed so that the hospital is connected by a corridor to its sister facility, Mountainside Residential Care Center.
“The renovation plans would make our entire health care campus more efficient and would improve services for our acute care and long-term care patients,” explained Mr. Morache.
He noted that by renovating the hospital in sections, there would be flexibility and minimal inconvenience for patients.
The CEO said there is no timetable for the overall hospital renovation project.