Phoenix Healthcare Opens Hospital for Tours

Jan 29th, 2014

View Hospital Tour Photos

(Carmi)-Phoenix Healthcare officials opened the hospital for private tours this week.  The media and community leaders were shown improvements to the facility that closed in December 2005.

“We have compacted the hospital building so it’s not the square footage that it was in the past,” said Angie Helsel of the Phoenix Foundation.  “The maintenance of the building and upkeep won’t be nearly as expensive as it was previously.”

The Emergency Room will be located in the same hallway with treatment and observation rooms on each side.  Phoenix has placed the Radiology Department on this wing as well. 

“If a patient comes by ambulance, they go straight to the emergency room.  If someone comes in on foot, they will register here.  But if it’s not a true emergency, they will be triaged.  That also helps reduce your costs to the ER." 

"We have brand new restrooms that meet ADA (American Disabilities Act) codes.  That will be the waiting area for the ER.”

The area that used to house the Surgery Department will now contain a Lab and Pharmacy.  The nurses’ station has undergone extensive renovation but remains in the same location.   

There will be four private rooms and three semi-private rooms with a total of 10 beds.

“We are opening under the life-safety codes of 2005.  Under those life safety codes, you didn’t have to have a restroom in the patient room.  You could have a public restroom.  They are going to allow us to open this way.  But we can only have one person in the room where there is not a restroom.”

Semi-private rooms will contain restrooms.  Phoenix plans to utilize bedside commodes and drapes in the four private rooms.  A new patient care shower room is being constructed, north of the nurses’ station. 

Residents will have quick access to the outpatient lab draw.  It’s located near the main entrance, facing Webb Street.  Offices for the CFO and CEO have been placed near the front of the hospital.  An outpatient clinic will adjoin the facility.

The hospital has room for up to 10 ancillary services.  These departments would be staffed by contracted specialists who would provide their own personnel and equipment. 

There is no cafeteria in the new hospital.  Meals for patients and visitors will be prepared in the nursing home portion of the building.

The hospital will contain the original flooring and windows.  The floors will be refurbished once the interior renovation work is complete. 

The Elastec American Marine Helipad has gone live.  To date, three successful patient flights have originated from the pad.  Greg Hays says the pilot response from St. Mary’s LifeFlight and Air Evac has been positive.   

Phoenix would like to have the hospital ready for inspection by the end of the year but funding remains a concern.  The non-profit has been hampered by a number of unexpected expenses.  Some of the hospital upgrades were unforeseen and others have been ordered by state inspectors.

A few of the major items include the HVAC system, new plumbing, asbestos removal, and a new roof.  Insurance costs and utility bills have been another burden. 

“We spent about $1.2 million that we didn’t expect to spend.  That’s put us behind in our budget.”

“We got the legislation allowing us to open under the life safety codes of 2005.  But the previous hospital never met those life safety codes.  We’ve had to go back and redo things from 1985.  The former owners had been told for 20 years to complete these projects.  We had no way of knowing it.”

For the hospital to reopen, Phoenix must raise approximately $2.2 million.  They need at least $1.2 million to get the building ready for survey and another million for equipment/staff.

"Working capital is not an issue because the Illinois State Treasurer offers programs where we can get money."

Officials are considering ideas for several big dollar fundraisers. 

“Several people have talked to us about sponsoring a room.  They would buy a plaque to go on the outside of the door, noting this room was in memory of someone.  Or maybe they would do the landscaping in honor of a loved one.”

At one time, the community donated $650,000 in one month to the hospital.  Officials also point to large grassroots efforts like Relay for Life, which netted over $50,000 last year.     

Helsel says the governor worked hard to secure the $3 million grant through bonds because he saw dedication in the community. 

“He said the state was interested in helping communities that helped themselves.  He felt like White County was one of those communities.  And he’s right.  That’s already been shown through the amount of money raised.”

Phoenix plans to ramp up publicity for the hospital in the coming months. 

The state owes the rehab and nursing side approximately $2 million in delayed payments.  Those funds could be put towards reopening the hospital. 

But Board Member David Campbell says the prospects are slim that Phoenix will see all the money.  Still, Helsel says she will ask for the funds through Senator Durbin’s Office, if necessary.

Phoenix believes a hospital is still viable in Carmi.  The organization points to patient volumes, which averaged 5500 between Hamilton and White counties in 2005.  Also, physicians are anxious to come to Carmi.

“Physicians are actually going to be the easiest to come across,” said Greg Hays.

“And nobody believes that.  But it is true.  We have so many physicians wanting to come here, it’s unbelievable,” added Helsel.

Phoenix plans to utilize Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners at the after-hours clinic. 

Hays says ambulance crews are weary from transporting patients to medical facilities at least 25 miles from Carmi.  He also believes the stigma of poor care, attributed to the old hospital has subsided. 

Hays cites the need for a viable health care system based on growing agriculture, industry, and oilfield-related activity.