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Skyline plans to start major expansion project

Helicopter pad to be relocated

Skyline Hospital is about to grow.

On Jan. 3, Skyline CEO Mike Madden said the hospital had obtained tax-exempt revenue bonds to finance a major building project. The plan he unveiled calls for constructing a new wing and relocating all the existing patient rooms to the new structure.

In addition to the new patient rooms, the hospital will convert what is now the patient wing into an efficient imaging center. When the project is completed, x-ray, CT scan, mammography, bone density imaging, and ultrasound will all be housed in one department of the hospital.

Madden said the new addition will be 13,756 square feet -- with another 10,000 square feet in an unfinished basement that could be developed in the future.

"Dietary and cafeteria could go there someday," Madden said.

The expansion and remodeling, which is expected to begin in May, will cost approximately $15.2 million.

Madden added that the building will be built with the ability to put on a second floor with relative ease if it is needed someday.

The hospital currently encompasses about 30,000 square feet.

Hospital revenues will be used to pay off the loan, and no additional tax revenues from residents of the hospital district are anticipated, according to Madden.

Skyline has been developing plans to replace all the patient rooms over the past two years.

"It was recommended by a recent state survey by the Board of Health that our patient rooms needed to be modernized and upgraded to meet future standards," said Madden. "With this loan, we will be able to provide a modern, healing facility for all of our patients."

Madden explained that new hospitals have to meet certain standards, and Skyline's project will bring its patient rooms up to modern guidelines.

"The state grandfathered in older hospitals like this one, which was built in 1952," Madden said. "But they said we really needed a plan. The main benefit of this is, we get our patient rooms upgraded to meet state standards with the appropriate amenities. All of our rooms are double, with two beds. After this, they all will be single."

Unlike the current setup, each of the new patient rooms will also have a shower.

"Everything will be private. You won't have to walk down the hall with those infamous patient gowns gaping at the back," Madden said.

Chief Nursing Officer Chris Duniphin said the changes were overdue.

"It's huge," Duniphin said. "One of the things that always bothered me about our system is its antiquation. Patients always had to share bathrooms, and nobody wants to come to a facility where you share a bathroom or share showers. And I never understood why they built it and didn't take advantage of the view. Now the patients will have the view. That helps them feel better and heals them faster; it's the state of mind."

There is a direct patient care benefit as well, Madden noted.

"We've improved the efficiency," Madden said. "The nurse's station will be closer to the patient rooms, and for some rooms they will be able to see the room from the nurse station. We don't have that right now. Closer, better observation makes a big difference."

Duniphin said the facility will be impressive.

"It will be much more efficient. Better layout, more storage space, softer lighting, softer colors, acoustically quieter, a place for family members to sleep in the rooms," he said. "It will look more like a hotel than a hospital."

Skyline currently has 12 rooms, each with two beds. Upon completion of the new facility, there will be 17 single-bed rooms with private facilities.

The project is also expected to enhance effectiveness for the hospital's imaging services.

"In the new arrangement, CT and x-ray will be right next to each other. Both x-ray and CT scan equipment will be right off the emergency room. Right now, we have to go through public hallways, and our staff is running back and forth. It's not convenient and it's not efficient at all," Madden said.

The new wing will be built adjacent to the existing patient wing, occupying the area where the helicopter landing pad is currently.

Although the existing heli-pad needs to be moved to accommodate the project, Madden said the new location will be an improvement.

"There will be a lot wider area for helicopters, and a better approach pattern," Madden explained. "It will give helicopters a bit better path coming in without flying over other buildings. We'll put it out further on that point, and lower down the hill."

Hospital officials reported that the new building will "arc in a gentle curve and connect to the other existing wing of the hospital and will provide dramatic views of the Columbia River Gorge from the patient's bed."

In a construction innovation, Skyline Hospital is using a design and build process that allows Skyline to hire the general contractor and construction manager while the building is still in the design phase. This allows the engineers and general contractor to have input in the design, thereby shortening the time from the design phase to actual construction.

Request for bids were sent to firms throughout the Northwest last October, and 11 companies responded. After a lengthy selection process, three companies were asked for bid quotations on the hospital's construction job.

In the end, SKANSKA USA Building, Inc., from Portland, was awarded the project. SKANSKA is expected to solicit subcontractor bids from local firms.

Groundbreaking is scheduled for May, with the building expected to be completed by the fall of 2009.

"We've always had a sense of pride in our work, and now we'll have a sense of pride in our facility too," Duniphin said. "It's a dream come true. We're growing to meet the needs."


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