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HMH rededication is Sunday

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By Donald Richie

Harrison Memorial Hospital (HMH) will host the rededication and open house of its expanded and renovated facility this weekend.

The rededication will be held on Sunday, April 20, 2008, at 1:30 p.m. Following the ceremony, guests are invited to take tours of the entire hospital, which includes the new $15 million, 45,000 square foot addition.

The tours will go through the entire hospital and feature the major clinical areas. Department heads will be on hand to tell visitors about each areas specialty.

Gov. Steve Beshear will be the keynote speaker and rededicate the hospital campus to the community.

Other speakers include HMH board chairman Dr. Greg Cooper and Dr. Michael Karpf, UK Healthcares executive vice president for health affairs.

The event will be a celebration not only of the hospital's progress, but of the new wing's success.

Darwin Root, HMH chief executive officer, said several key areas have shown significant growth since the wing opened last year.

"Inpatient admissions are up almost five percent and our births have increased 47 percent from a year ago," he said.

HMH marketing director Mollie Smith added that surgeries performed at the hospital have also increased.

"Surgeries are up about five percent," Root said.

The expansion project was born from the hospital board's realization that major change was needed for the hospital to remain viable in the long term.

Root said initially the idea of affiliating with another hospital was entertained.

"The decision was basically not to affiliate," he said. "With that, the board knew they really had to invest money in physical facilities."

Once the decision to remain independent was made in January 2004, a space planner was commissioned to evaluate HMHs needs and develop a space plan that would meet those needs for the next 10 years.

The space planner concluded that the most cost-efficient way to meet HMH's space needs was to tear down the former south wing long-term care facility, construct a new three-story building and renovate portions of the existing building.

This allowed the hospital to centralize all outpatient surgeries and procedures in one area, provide more womens services in a designated suite, expand physical and occupational rehabilitation and radiology and build a new, expanded emergency room.

These changes were designed to improve staff efficiency and provide better access and more privacy for patients.

Hospital administrators and board members kicked off the building process in January 2005 with a community capital campaign to raise $1 million in seed money for the expansion project.

To date, the capital campaign has raised more than 140 percent of its goal with contributions pouring in from HMH employees, individual community members and groups and regional businesses.

"The community helped build it," Smith said. "They did build it."

The expansion began in November 2005 and was completed in February 2007. Renovation of the existing buildingincluding a new rehabilitation (physical therapy) area, health information and several officeswas completed in February 2008.

When the new wing opened, the surgery department was not finished because it shared space between the old and new areas. Now that it is complete, the wing itself can be considered done.

"There are some other areas we've spruced up and expanded a little bit," said Root. "Because we were able to move into the new building and create some vacated space in the old building."

The rededication and open house reflect the culmination of all that planning and work.

"I really think it ought to be a large element of pride for the community," Root said.