Groundbreaking Moves PMC Forward for New Facilities

CEO Craig Loveless

CEO Craig Loveless

Construction crews have already been at work, removing slabs of concrete from one of the parking lots at Prowers Medical Center, even as the groundbreaking ceremony for renovations and expansion was being held this past Monday, April 13, adjacent to the Emergency Room entrance.

Craig Loveless, hospital Chief Executive Officer, welcomed the audience and was joined by several community leaders and Julie Branes, PMC board chairman, in addressing the gathering on what the $12M, 18 month expansion project will mean for the community, staff and patients.

Henry Schnabel, Ron Cook and Roger Stagner

Henry Schnabel, Ron Cook and Roger Stagner

Branes explained that the renovation project was the result of a collaboration of ideas, brought together in a common goal, “This started with team members, with board and community members, as many people we could draw into this process as possible.  This group effort is going to benefit our community for years to come.”  She thanked current and past board members for their work in laying the groundwork to begin the expansion process.  Loveless also recognized the hospital’s Foundation Board members for their continued fund raising efforts.

PMC Ground Breaking April 2015 (5)]Loveless said he was thankful to see the community support for improved health care in southeast Colorado, adding, “We need the support of all our health care providers, High Plains Community Health Center, Southeast Health, the County’s Public Health Department and all of them contribute to the support of your hospital.”  He added that the input from the hospital staff was imperative in bringing the expansion project to life.  “It began several years ago during a board meeting when we knew we needed to talk to our employees about the project’s needs, what they were hearing from our patients on how we could improve.  Karen Bryant began our employee committee to explore those needs and those results are what we will see over the next year, all from the input of patients, staff and the community.”

Lamar Mayor Roger Stagner and Prowers County Commissioners Ron Cook and Henry Schnabel addressed the gathering.  Stagner said, “One part of a strong community is its medical center.  Prowers Medical Center is making a big commitment to our area.  We’re happy to recognize their future efforts, bringing in more services such as physical therapy.  We need to be able to support our area hospital here in Lamar.”

Cook mentioned how the community benefits from the hospital’s 204 employees, adding, “PMC had to go through some battles to get this project underway.  They’re committed to improving the health care in our community.”  Commissioner Schnabel said, “Prowers Medical Center could become a mecca for health care in this part of the state.  Through our Health Care Coalition we could have outstanding health care reach far and wide in the region.”

Andrew Hauss, Manager of Design Services for CPI, the hospital construction and design firm handling the project out of Denver, said there will be some areas for local construction firms to sub-contract on the project.  He added there will be some CPI employees who will be on site for the life of the construction project, while others may rotate in and out as the construction focuses on different portions of the hospital such as physical therapy, the operating room expansion or the emergency room.

Loveless jogged some local memories with a recap of the origins of Prowers Medical Center, going back to 1928 with the advent of the Charles Maxwell Hospital which was sold in 1946 to the Dominican Sisters of the Immaculate Conception who renamed the facility, ‘Sacred Heart’.  In 1960 the hospital was incorporated into the Prowers County District and was reorganized as Prowers Medical Center, moving to its current location in 1978.  He mentioned other expansion projects which developed into 25 private beds in 1992 and a patient’s wing which was opened in 2005.

Construction Near Emergency Room Parking Area

Construction Near Emergency Room Parking Arealoca

Most of the construction work will be on the east side of the hospital, opening 12,500 square feet of space for a physical therapy gym which will be functioning by October, the emergency department will be finalized by December and the surgical center will be complete by January, 2016.

Work on New Parking Area

Work on New Parking Area

Loveless expected to see additional use for the enlarged physical therapy services, stating, “We’re squeezed into a four foot wide corridor when we go for our therapy programs.  Soon, we’ll have the use of a 2,700 square foot gym for both athletes and the general public.  With our aging population, we’re going to do more work in orthopedics, and even if you have to leave the area for some surgeries, you’ll be able to conduct your rehab at home.”

Even as the CEO was discussing some of the aspects of the current project, he was mentioning still more future plans for the hospital, referencing the new partnership with Parkview Hospital in Pueblo and how it will increase treatments for local residents.  “Parkview is a teaching hospital and their internal medicine residency program is already sending physicians to us for a rotation period.  Their first class is just finishing up this year.”  He added that PMC will be able to offer additional services for podiatry and arthroscopic surgeries with the Parkview alliance.  “Some of our facilities and even equipment and procedures are 30 to 40 years old.  This expansion will help to bring new treatment techniques to our community and we can use Parkview for additional physician recruitment.”

While attendees were enjoying the BBQ luncheon on one side of the Emergency Room parking area and construction crews were grading the new parking facility on the other side, an ambulance from Kiowa County pulled up in between, delivering a patient for treatment at the hospital.  The everyday work is mixed in with a new and future phase for PMC.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: BusinessCommissionerscommunityCountyEconomyEducationEmploymentEventsFeaturedHealthHistoryHot TopicsLamarProwers CountyPublic SafetyUtilities


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