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Hospital's remodel is doing well

The $4.3 million expansion and remodel of Whidbey General Hospital is coming in three months ahead of schedule, and should be wrapped up by the beginning of next year.

Not bad for government work.

The two-year construction project, funded by a hospital district bond approved by voters in September of 2000, revamps about 20 percent of the hospital's existing facilities while adding 6,000 square feet to an original structure of about 100,000 square feet.

The project is primarily focused on improving outpatient services. This includes an expansion of areas such as admitting, registration, physical therapy, cardiac rehab and oncology. There will be a new trauma room, a decontamination room, a "secure" room and a room for chemically-sensitive patients. The new design will address some privacy concerns as well, hospital Public Relations Director Trish Rose said this week.

"The remodel will allow for more private admitting procedures," Rose said Thursday.

Another aspect of the remodel, Rose said, is the creation of a "quiet room," a place for patients and visitors to gather their thoughts or meditate which is being funded by proceeds raised by the Whidbey Island Hospital Foundation.

Dave Riley, who has served as the hospital's director of plant facilities management for over a decade, said part of the challenge in remodeling a hospital lies in keeping everything up and running for patients.

"It's always a challenge to stay in business," Riley said on Friday. "It's not just bricks and mortar. We really put some thought into this."

Construction is being done in phases, with various departments being relocated or condensed in order to accommodate the 25-person work crew without hampering hospital operations. Ed Field was the person hired by the Whidbey General to coordinate construction activities with Dawson Construction, Inc. He said the work is happening as it was planned.

"The biggest thing is to accommodate short term pain for long term gain," Field said. "All the departments are working together to crunch down their space for a few days during construction. It's been going extremely well."

Riley is quick to credit everyone involved in the project for its smooth running.

"We've got a great crew and a quality staff here," he said.

Right now, crews are getting ready to work on the hospital's admitting area, which Field said will be the trickiest part of the project.

"This is the tightest we'll be as far as space is concerned," he said.

Riley said that the entire project is a boon both for the hospital staff and the community it serves. Details such as improved "traffic patterns" inside the hospital will cure confusion about where to go, and an expanded admitting area will provide more privacy.

"It's a tremendous improvement," Riley said. "It'll make people feel a lot more comfortable."

On a larger scale, such an up-to-date remodel will help attract health care professionals to Island County, Riley said.

Rose also points out that expanding the hospital now is a good way of dealing with future growth issues.

"It'll really improve our ability to provide quality services," she said.

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