Kirby expansion project underway

Despite rain that began after Kirby Medical Center broke ground on a 16,500-square-foot addition to its Monticello Hospital in September, hospital officials feel the project is still on track for a Phase I completion by the end of next April. The new space will house a relocated therapy department, added exam rooms for the Kirby Medical Group, a new, larger classroom for hospital and hospital-related community events, and another parking lot (already completed along with an extension of Medical Center Drive) at the front of the campus.

A climate-controlled walkway is also being constructed to connect the medical center with the adjacent Carle Clinic.

Phases II and III of the hospital upgrade – scheduled for a February of 2019 completion – will result in 14,500 square feet of renovated space within the hospital, including expanded space for the surgery department, imaging and lab.

We sat down with Kirby Chief Executive Officer Steve Tenhouse for an update on the hospital’s expansion project.

PCJR: Is the construction project on track?

Tenhouse: “It’s on track. The rain set the foundation work back a little bit, but we’re on track to have Phase I done by the end of the April. That’s primarily the new addition on the front of the building for the Kirby Medical Group and the end of the building where therapy will also locate.”

PCJR: Tell me again the main reasons for the expansion.

Tenhouse: “There are really two main reasons. First, there is the growth of KMG both with the number of providers that we have as well as the number of patients we see, with more and more patients getting established with our physicians group (there are seven practitioners compared to four when the new hospital opened in 2011).

“Plus, we’ve added mental health counseling and a number of other specialties to the clinic that we didn’t have originally. Second, we have seen growth in the surgery department, including new orthopedic joint replacements and the related ripple effect there on our other departments due to that growth. That’s where the large growth has been the last three or four years.”

PCJR: There is so much going on at once. Is this how you saw it happening, or is it just growth that came out of the blue?

Tenhouse: “We knew there was potential for growth. When we did the original design and moved out here we knew the need was there. But we had to be careful not to overbuild to begin with, and build for a reasonable amount of growth.

“A lot of it comes down to how health care changes have changed and will change in the future. Primary care, such as family medicine and internal medicine is one of the most cost-effective ways to deliver care, and is what our organization is rooted in. Providing that primary care serves everyone in the community, and those practitioners can provide access to specialists if needed.”

PCJR: Talk more about the change in the health care climate. Twenty years ago a hospital would have added more patient rooms, but that is not part of the current Kirby expansion (Kirby currently has 16 patient rooms).

Tenhouse: “Not right now, but we will see an increase in our hospital stays with the total joint replacement surgery line. Healthcare in the past 20 years has seen a pretty dramatic shift away from inpatient care to outpatient care because the days of lying in a bed weeks after surgery are over. Patients are better rehabilitating in an outpatient setting in their own environment, which is also a much lower-cost model. That’s why you’re seeing across the country hospital stays dramatically decrease. Right now our outpatient care makes up about 85 percent of our business.”

PCJR: When do joint replacements start?

“Around the end of this month. Dr. Jacob Sams and Dr. Mick Sullivan from Decatur Orthopedic Clinic, who have been coming here for about three years, will be doing the surgeries and joint replacement surgery is something we have been planning on offering with them here in Piatt County from the beginning. Knee, shoulder and hip replacements will all be offered here.”

PCJR: What are you looking forward to most with the expansion?

Tenhouse: “The benefits to the community, both for job growth and to provide more healthcare locally. As our fundraising tagline for this project states, it will be amazing to see ‘what a little change can do’ for the health and growth of the community.”


 

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