West Park Hospital Nearing Completion of Facility Master Plan

by HCE Exchange on February 5, 2016

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Doug McMillan, chief executive officer of West Park Hospital District in Cody, Wyo., a critical-access hospital located on the East Gate of Yellowstone National Park, is a rare breed among modern healthcare executives. He has held his title of CEO at WPH for more than 17 years.

This longevity has afforded him the benefit and perspective of hindsight. It has also helped him lead the organization through a long-term facility master-planning process that began in 2005.

At the time, McMillan had been at WPH for eight years, but the organization had never drawn up a formal facility master plan.

“As we were putting together our strategic plan, we decided that we really needed to put together a facility master plan that was in alignment with our three-year strategic plan,” McMillan said.

Nine years later, WPH is about to implement the third and final phase of that plan. All three phases combined have totaled approximately $70 million.

“When you think of the textbook presentation of how a facility master-planning process should be developed and look, we’ve actually demonstrated it,” he said.

Meeting the demands of the future

Prior to the facility master plan, the hospital had been updating its facilities under state grants, but its building was still 40 years old. Furthermore, the hospital wasn’t prepared for the future, and McMillan said one of the first questions he and his team asked was, “What will the hospital need to be in the next 20 to 30 years, especially when more growth is being projected?”

WPH has been managed by Quorum Health Resources (QHR) since 1987. By bringing in the American Health Facilities Department (AHFD), a subsidiary of QHR, the facility master plan was drawn up in collaboration with board members, managers, physicians, and administration. AHFD spent a great deal of time gathering data from each department, and in 2006, the board of directors approved the facility master plan.

Like most facility master plans, McMillan said it wasn’t something the hospital could devour in one bite. Therefore, it was divided into the three phases.

Constructing a new medical office building

The first phase of the project was constructing a new medical office building. The old medical office building was literally built on stilts and had far surpassed its golden anniversary. Beyond that, its appearance was an eyesore, McMillan said.

“It was the first thing that people saw in Cody, which is a tourist community, and in the summertime we have over three million people who either go into or exit Yellowstone National Park.”

The new 60,000 square-foot medical office building was about a mile from the campus proper. Initially, the community was against the first phase, McMillan said, especially when a large portion of the building was initially unoccupied.

Nine years after the fact, those concerns have been answered. The building has accommodated the organization’s projected growth, and now 50,000 square feet is in use by existing and newly recruited physicians.

Modernizing infrastructure and relocating services

The second phase, called the Modernization Project, was a $30-million renovation and expansion project that was built on the site of the old medical office building.

The Modernization Project consisted of a new 11,000 square-foot emergency department with an ambulance bay connected to the ED. The second phase also included a new imaging department, laboratory, patient financial services department, gift shop, and a new front entrance that features a large mall connecting the newly constructed addition to the rest of the hospital.

The new addition was designed with the Disney model in mind: on-stage and off-stage halls that provide a hallway in the front of the facility for all outpatients, visitors, and staff and a back hallway connecting all patient areas in the facility for transportation of inpatients, surgical patients, and ED patients who are admitted to the medical & surgical or coronary-care units.

Other facets of the Modernization Project included relocating the LTCC front entrance and remodeling the front entrance and resident patios.

The third phase in the project is a series of relocations and repurposing of locations. This includes moving all medical & surgical beds to the addition from the second phase and relocating the dietary department to the lower level of the new addition.

WPH originally intended to expand its conference center adjacent to the kitchen and cafeteria during the third phase, but cut this project because of cost, McMillan said.

“Fortunately, our Foundation has been offered a very nice gift to expand our conference center from Lenox Baker, MD, hospital trustee, and his wife Fran Baker, MD, so we are excited about the new Baker Community Education Center, which will provide the nicest conference and education facilities in Northwest Wyoming.”

The centerpiece of the third phase is the relocation of Cedar Mountain Center to the third floor of the hospital, the floor where the medical & surgical beds are currently located. The original facility for Cedar Mountain Center, which is an inpatient chemical dependency center, is located across the street from the hospital. Once it is relocated, the old Cedar Mountain site will be used for expanded parking.

Stressing the importance of alignment

“When we look back at how it was developed and how we’ve just taken small bites over nine years with the first phase, second phase, and now third phase, it’s just pretty phenomenal,” McMillan said.

Because WPH is a hospital district, which classifies it as a governmental entity, its board leadership changes every four years. However, even this turnover has not impeded forward progress on the master plan, since each board member has adopted the vision immediately.

“I can’t stress the importance of aligning an organization’s facility master planning with their strategic planning process,” McMillan said. “Most organizations, large and small, want to attain growth, but without creating a template for the growth you want to achieve and without the overlay of what your existing hospital looks like and what it needs to look like, it’s easy to say, but hard to accomplish.”

-by Pete Fernbaugh

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