Utah Valley Regional Medical Center expands to acc

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    By CARMEN COLE

    Utah Valley Regional Medical Center is adding over 230,000 square feet to its campus to better facilitate patients and employees.

    The $90-million project began Aug. 6, but this week, the Wellness Center is moving over to their new location in the Northwest Building.

    The Northwest Building is about 80,000 square feet and will house not only the Wellness Center, but the Family Practice Residency, education, business office, dialysis and some of the county leadership offices, according to Anton Garrity, spokesman for the hospital.

    Because the residency only takes up about 15,000 square feet, there will be plenty of room for everything else moving into the building. These services “will all be moved over by the end of the year. But the first ones to move over will be … the Wellness Center, which will move over (this) week, and the business office will start moving the week after that,” Garrity said.

    The hospital’s construction project also includes a 572-car parking terrace, four-story Women and Children’s Center, Family Guest House and plans to double the size of its 4,600-square-foot power plant, Garrity said. The project is scheduled to be completed in two years.

    “We believe these changes and improvements will make UVRMC a more user-friendly campus,” said Ron Jones, assistant administrator for the Urban South Region, in a news release. The Urban South Region includes everything in Utah County.

    “Parking, for a long time, has been a struggle here,” Garrity said.

    And to make parking even more inconvenient, “to clear the space for the parking terrace to be constructed, we had to eliminate the few stalls we already had,” he said. “The only parking we have left is for patients and visitors. We’re leasing some space to shuttle our employees. There are two big vans that run from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.”

    It’s not just the parking, that needed revamping. All the services for women and children are presently spread throughout the hospital; upon completion of the renovations, all of them will be housed under one roof.

    “We’re a busy hospital,” Garrity said. “We want to facilitate the services for the patient. By redoing all the women and children’s services (into) one building … we’ll have all women’s and children’s services under one roof. It’ll allow us to provide the highest quality of care to all our patients.”

    Services in the 219,000-square ft. center will include a newborn intensive care unit, pediatric ICU, mother-baby unit, labor and delivery, pediatric unit, ICU for adults, neonatology, perinatology, same-day surgery, a gift shop, snack bar and admitting offices, Garrity said.

    The Family Guest House has been a dream for many years for the hospital. It will include 6,500 square feet, two stories, 13 apartments and will house non-local patients at cheaper rates than commercial hotels.

    “The Guest House is a long-needed service for this area. People traveling long distances in order to receive treatment need to focus on getting better instead of worrying about where they or family members are going to stay or how they are going to pay for it,” said Paul Schneiter, director of the Central Utah Health Care Foundation, in a news release. “Convenient and affordable housing will not be a problem for Utah County patients and guests anymore.”

    Garrity said the hospital will also be buying more technologically-advanced equipment so the hospital can keep up, and patients’ stays will be shorter.

    With the new equipment, “a patient will stay less time. More will be done on an outpatient basis; so the way we do medicine is changing. Whenever you have better technology … it keeps costs down.

    “The hospital was first constructed in 1939. It’s really expensive to try to keep up with the maintenance of those buildings, but plus with technology growing at such a faster rate … it’s cheaper to build new buildings (than to modernize the old ones),” Garrity said. “And basically some of those building are not able to keep up with current earthquake and building codes. As new building requirements come about, we have to build according to those.”

    Because technology and building standards are always improving, the hospital is really under a state of construction all the time; this project is just the only big one in 20 years.

    The last addition to the hospital was the tower in 1979, Garrity said. “We’ve always got so many projects, we have our own construction team.”

    And where did the hospital get the $90 million to upgrade?

    The Family and Guest House is being constructed completely from donations, Garrity said. Excess donations are being used elsewhere in construction, but most of the money has been borrowed in the form of a government bond.

    “We take bonds out all the time,” Garrity said. “Being not-for-profit, we’re able to access certain government bonds, and because of our track health record — being financially viable — we can get the lowest rate possible.”

    “We’re part of Intermountain Health Care, which is a health-care chain. We operate on a two to three percent bottomline,” Garrity said, which means the hospital only makes two to three percent profit.

    The profit is recycled back into the system, in the form of salaries, updating equipment, renovation and to provide new technology, he said.

    For this project, UVRMC took out a 30-year bond. Garrity said the hospital will pay off the bond with the extra money it makes. He also said a government bond is similar to taking out a loan, so the taxpayers are not paying money on this.

    Garrity said the next project will hopefully be an additional north and south building. Another south building would be used for support services such as administration, security and housekeeping, and the north building would be for outpatient services.

    The hospital was first owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Twenty years ago “the LDS church decided to get out of the hospital business and created IHC and turned over the hospital to IHC with the understanding that (it) would not be a for-profit health care company,” Garrity said.

    All construction and improvements on the hospital must be approved by the hospital’s corporate board in Salt Lake City. Provo also has a local board with about 15 members, Garrity said. Membership on the board is voluntary and not paid.

    “It takes months of review for hospital (administrators) to choose what they’re going to do,” Garrity said.

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