WHEELING - Whether building a new emergency department to accommodate more patients or investing in new technology to improve health care outcomes, local hospitals are moving forward to serve their communities' needs.
For example, at Wheeling Hospital, the new $50 million Tower 5 includes a new emergency room and larger single-patient rooms.
"Tower 5 is the face of the future in many respects; not just here, but a lot of the hospitals in Pittsburgh are making a lot of the same changes that we have made," said Ron Violi, Wheeling Hospital chief executive officer. "They are putting in all private rooms, their ERs are way up to speed and are getting bigger. Our ER is huge, our trauma rooms are huge.
Wheeling Hospital’s new Tower 5 features a larger emergency room, larger patient rooms and the latest in medical technology for area residents.
"You need a lot of room if something really bad is going on. ... When you have a problem, you need a lot of people. They move together like a team. ... You could build a smaller room, but at the end of the day if everybody can't fit in the room, it tends to lose some quality."
Kelly Bettem, an administrator at Ohio Valley Medical Center in Wheeling, said her hospital has an oncology unit and infusion room. And last year the hospital opened a walk-in clinic at the Wal-Mart in St. Clairsville.
"We have listened to the needs of the community and opened a new state-of-the-art Child & Adolescent Behavioral Health Center," Bettem said of the facility named after the late Robert C. Byrd.
The facility helps children 5-12 years old and adolescents 13 years old up to 18 who are still in high school. There are separate wards for each age group. A third unit is used for an overflow of patients or children who need closer observation.
The center replaces Ohio Valley Medical Center's current mental health center, HillCrest. The new facility is an inpatient unit where children typically stay for no more than eight days at a time.
"It's bigger and brighter. ... They need fresh air and sunshine," said John Antal, adolescent center director, of the children who stay at the facility. "They need to exert energy and with this facility they will be able to do that."
The new facility serves both boys and girls who live within a 100-mile radius of Wheeling. It includes a gymnasium with a basketball court where other physical education classes are held, such as yoga. Playground equipment also will be installed in an outdoor courtyard.
Children are being treated for a variety of issues including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, depression and self-mutilating behavior. Some children have oppositional defiant behavior, which means they won't follow instructions, are aggressive and sometimes hit their parents.
Antal noted they do not typically treat children with drug or alcohol issues. The children are often brought for treatment by their parents, from group homes or by the state after being rescued from abusive homes.
While in office, the late Byrd secured $5.7 million for the project because children often had to leave the area for treatment. The remainder of the project was covered by OVMC's operating fund.
Bernie Albertini, East Ohio Regional Hospital administrator, said it is impossible to "retro-fit" when it comes to technology at hospitals.
"Health care is constantly changing. We choose to embrace new technology and not look in the rearview mirror. Technology developed and implemented today becomes obsolete quickly. At our hospitals (EORH and OVMC), we are choosing to move forward with technology," Albertini said.
Reynolds Memorial Hospital spokeswoman Melissa Marco said there are future plans to renovate portions of the Glen Dale facility. But there is no timeline set.
"The newest part is 40 years old. We're trying to figure out how to improve the layout for our buildings to best suit our patients," she said.
Brian Felici, administrator of Wetzel County Hospital, said his facility during 2013 will continue to be challenged by having to do more with less.
"Our reimbursements continue to decline as our expenses increase. That's one of the big challenges for today's health care providers and we continue to focus on it. We are always looking at ways to improve the services that we provide to our patients and we plan strategically, not only for this year, but for several years ahead," Felici said. "We cannot remain stagnant in an environment that is always changing, so we're always looking forward. We were recently honored by Press Ganey Associates for our commitment to patient care and we're very proud of this accomplishment. Being recognized for our ongoing commitment to meeting the needs of our patients is a tribute to our entire staff from our clinical providers to our ancillary departments and support staff."
At Barnesville Hospital, use of a new electronic records system is being implemented, the McKeeson Paragon.
"What we are doing right now at Barnesville Hospital will change the way we deliver health care to the community forever. Technology is changing the way we deliver that care," said David Phillips, Barnesville Hospital chief executive officer. "The implementation of the electronic health record system will allow a coordination of care among all areas of the health care community. While it is government mandate, it will ultimately lead to better communication of patient information, enhanced access to health information and a more informed health care consumer in the coming years."