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Horn Memorial Hospital Unveils Plans for New Inpatient Unit

Photo's of Plans

Horn Memorial Hospital in Ida Grove has released plans for a new $9 million Inpatient Unit building project. A capital fundraising campaign for the project kicked off November 20 at the Fall Foundation Festival, with a fundraising goal of $1 to 1.5 million.
The need for a new Inpatient Unit stems from the age and design inefficiencies of the current unit which is original to the building that was built in 1965. According to Horn CEO, Chris Nichols, there are a couple of drivers behind the need for a new Inpatient Unit. "The number one reason for this project is to get all private rooms with a private bathroom and shower. This has become both a standard of care and an expectation of patients and families." The current inpatient rooms are designed as "semi-private" with two beds to a room separated by a curtain, and a bathroom, but the bathrooms are built small and don't have showers inside the rooms. Nichols added, "Back when it was built in the 60's, it was designed how most other hospitals were designed. It's served us well, but healthcare delivery has changed, and improving privacy as well as efficiency is central to our need to do this."
The hospital began studying their facility about 18 months ago with the help of consultants Graham Construction and the architecture firm Shive Hattery, both out of Des Moines. The initial instinct was to remodel the current Inpatient Unit, but the study that was performed proved that wasn't the best way to proceed. It was estimated that a remodel would be equally or more expensive and take twice as long. Nichols added, "The remodel was really a complete gut-job and nothing would be retained except the walls. The time frame to remodel was close to two years, and that is a really difficult thing to pull off when would have to take care of patients in that same space. We will avoid that by building a new structure in half that time - it's estimated to take 12-14 months to complete."
In early 2015, a team of staff from Horn toured five hospitals throughout the state to look for ideas and design concepts. Nichols stated that this process was valuable to get the team thinking about both what was needed and what was possible. Then in May, Graham and Shive Hattery led hospital staff through a "Cardboard Mock-Up" process where several of the rooms were constructed life-size in cardboard. The majority of the staff at Horn participated in the 2-day process and basically designed the whole unit. Nichols added, "It was a very fluid, interactive process that changed hour to hour as staff came through. They'd see things and make suggestions, and within minutes we had it designed or modified in cardboard - a shelf here, a door there, etc. Our staff was so involved and engaged in the process that we pretty much had the basics designed in those two remarkable days."
The new Inpatient Unit will be designed for 17 private patient rooms, with one of the rooms slightly larger to accommodate two beds if needed. With this change, the new bed capacity will be 21, including the three old obstetrics rooms that are currently used for sleep studies. Nichols commented, "We would officially drop our bed capacity from 25 to 21 beds. With our average daily census of 9 patients, we feel this is adequate to meet our future needs. People need to realize that having an average census of 9 in today's hospital world is a very strong number for the population we serve. Other like-sized communities with a hospital are well under that number. It speaks to the great care they receive at Horn."
Other features of the new Inpatient Unit design include:
•A centralized nurse's station that serves as the "hub" of the unit, with the rooms surrounding it in a "race-track" fashion. This will improve both care efficiency and privacy - a benefit to both staff and patients.
•A new physician dictation area right off of the nurse's station.
•A staff lounge that can double as a meeting room or nurse report room.
•A family room or "Solarium" at the north end of the unit overlooking the golf course with a kitchenette, table, computer, and comfortable furniture.
•Ample natural light - at nurse's station as well large windows inside the patient rooms.
•Motorized window shades (controlled by the patient) and a small dorm-sized refrigerator for family to use inside the patient rooms.
•A new nurse-call light system with updated technology.
•Two rooms will feature an over-head ceiling lift to accommodate larger or immobile patients to assist in patient and staff safety.
•An outdoor courtyard space that will have a walking path, benches along the path, covered dining or seating areas, landscaping, and a water fountain feature.
Nichols commented that many of the features were concepts they saw on tours of other hospitals.. "For example, the outdoor courtyard was something we saw variations of in other places and was an idea we all fell in love with. We designed ours to be functional - not just something pretty to look at, but something we can use every day when the weather is nice. I can see patients, families, and staff all using this area."
Construction on the new Inpatient Unit could begin in mid-2016, but depends on meeting fundraising targets. Nichols stated, "Our early fundraising efforts suggest that there is a lot of support for this project. People seem to understand what it takes to keep our hospital vital and modern. 2016 does mark the 50th anniversary of Horn Memorial opening its doors, so it would seem fitting that we begin work on a new project that would likely serve our communities for the next 50 years."
If and when construction begins, the first step would be demolition the patient wing that sits east-west on Horn's property. The new unit would then be constructed in that space and linked to the current hospital by a connection walkway. After the new unit is constructed, the north-south wing would be demolished and that space would be filled-in by the outdoor courtyard.
Horn Memorial Hospital's last major renovation project began in 2005 with the addition of the Surgical Suites and Conference Center on the first floor and the Physical Therapy and Rehab Departments and Administrative offices on the second floor. Horn remains a community-based, not-for-profit, independent hospital that does not receive tax support and is not part of a larger corporate system - "a rarity in today's world" Nichols stated. "Our independence is something that has made us who we are and we're proud of it. It's that way because of the incredible staff we have who are always ahead of the curve for healthcare industry regulations and changes. This project is just as much for the staff as it is for the patients and families."
From the time that the project was just an idea in the Board Room, the Horn Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees has provided both strategic direction and support for the project. Since Nichols arrived at Horn in May of 2013, he stated that it's been a topic of conversation in the Board Room and something he knew that one day would become reality. Horn Memorial Board Chair, Randy Carpenter, commented, "We are 100% behind the project and committed to seeing that we take the services and facilities at Horn into the future. This project does that, and the new Unit fits very well with the rest of the hospital." Secretary of the Board, Deb Einspahr, commented, "I have served on the board for nearly nine years and this is a very exciting time at HMH! The plan that is in place for this new inpatient unit is phenomenal. The amount of research and time that has been spent on this ensures the viability of excellent care at HMH far into the future."

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