The Moore American

October 30, 2013

Changing health care means shift in services

By Joy Hampton
The Moore American

MOORE — The Norman Regional Hospital Authority approved plans Monday for a five-story, 100,000-square-foot, $28.8 million facility for the Moore Medical Center rebuild. The new medical center will offer emergency and outpatient services as well as lab and imaging such as ultrasound and X-ray.

Richie Splitt, chief administrative officer of Moore Medical Center and the HealthPlex Hospital, told health system board members that the facility will be designed to meet the most desired needs in the Moore community.

“Health care is changing and we’re positioning ourselves to change with health care,” Splitt said.

Up to 80,000 square feet of medical office space will accommodate displaced physicians, other physicians and specialists and additional outpatient and ancillary services. Community education meeting space will accommodate 50 to 100 people for medical education, health screenings and meetings.

What the new facility will not offer is a full-service in-patient hospital — at least not initially.

“The answer is not ‘no,’ it’s just ‘not now,’” NRHS COO Greg Terrell said.

Terrell said the industry has changed and there is less demand for in-patient services. NRHS CEO David Whitaker said there were some very emotional discussions with employees about that decision.

The proposed design will feature a modern look to go with a modern vision. The center will look similar to the HealthPlex, and Splitt said it will provide convenience of access.

Future phases could include physical therapy and a birthing center. If the market merits, the design allows for a possible expansion corridor that would allow for a patient tower with inpatient beds.

“This will be a development structure unlike anything we’ve seen today,” Splitt said. “Modern health care today demands that we are efficient.”

The structure will make use of vertical space for a smaller footprint than the previous 45-bed hospital. The new facility is projected to open in 2016.

In the meantime, construction has started on a temporary, free-standing emergency department in Moore.

“We wanted to get the ED up and running as quickly as possible,” Splitt said.

The temporary, modular building will allow for trauma fast-track rooms for minor illnesses and injuries, an isolation room, treatment rooms, a triage area, X-ray, CT, ultrasound and lab services.

Hospital leadership is targeting Dec. 2 as the temporary facility’s opening date. It is the same type of facility that served as a temporary hospital for Joplin, Mo., after a tornado devastated the hospital in that city.

Moore’s temporary ED will consist of 11,000 square feet. Splitt said a freestanding physical medicine facility could be next, which would include occupational medicine and speech therapy. If approved, that temporary facility could open in February or March.

An above-ground safe room on site for employees and staff also will be built.

Meanwhile, other services are being addressed at the HealthPlex. A surgical suite build-out at the HealthPlex will allow for more capacity for main surgery and gynecology surgery.

On Monday, the hospital board also approved expansion and upgrades to the HealthPlex facility to better serve the additional patients coming to the HealthPlex since the loss of MMC. Those plans include build-out of the fifth floor. Currently, that floor is a shell, but it will become a 32-bed unit.

Following the tornado, the demolition of Moore Medical resulted in 14,643 tons of debris being removed. Of that, 66 percent — or 9,628 tons — of debris was diverted from the landfill.

Saxum Communications partnered with NRHS to conduct five live focus groups to assess options and opinions from stakeholders.

The Moore Advisory Committee included city leaders, physicians and employees. Two volunteer focus groups were conducted by NRHS staff, Splitt said.

In addition, an online community survey between Sept. 23 and Oct. 21 garnered 289 responses. Of those, 83 percent were female, often the decision-makers in choosing family health care, Splitt said.

Sixty-four percent of the respondents were aged 26 to 45. Predominant zip codes covered all of Moore and parts of Oklahoma City and Norman. Splitt said both the focus groups and the online survey indicated that emergency service is the most important service to retain in Moore.

The $28.8 million price tag does not include furniture, fixtures and equipment.

“This will not exceed insurance proceeds that are available,” CFO Ken Hopkins said.

Hopkins also reported that as of Sept. 30, NRHS’s bond rating was upgraded from BB+ to BBB- by Fitch Rating Services, a financial watchdog service that has tracked the health system and seen a multiple-year improvement.

“The key drivers supporting the upgrade included improving financial ratios, no significant disruption from the May 20 tornado, and a leading market share,” Hopkins said.

He further reported that Fitch “noted multi-year improvement in key financial ratios and results were in line with the BBB- rating level. In particular, they noted strong improvement in liquidity. They noted that debt burden is still high relative to the category, but it continues to improve.

“They also appreciated the opportunity to redesign the physical plant (at Moore Medical) with an eye toward increased efficiency and current health care trends,” he said.

Fitch pointed to the health system’s “leading and stable market share within its primary service area,” Hopkins said. “These factors combined to support the bond rating upgrade.”

Joy Hampton 366-3544 jhampton@ normantranscript.com