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Columbus Community Hospital is in the early phases of a $35 million renovation project its leaders say will benefit the thousands of people who come to the facility to have their various health care needs met.

The project, slated for completion in late 2020 or early 2021, could commence as early as this year and places emphasis on renovating and expanding various hospital spaces. Among them are the Maternal Child Department, Operating Rooms, Radiology Department and first-floor layout.

“Really the charge that the Board (Columbus Community Hospital Board of Directors) gave me back in 2009 was to really invest in our organizational capabilities and align with our providers to take this hospital kind of to the next level, which is a regional referral-type hospital,” said Mike Hansen, hospital CEO and president, who has overseen operations at the 16-year-old facility for eight-and-a-half years.

Project funds are being allocated from the hospital’s operational budget and donor-designated gifts provided through the Columbus Community Hospital Foundation.

Periodically, Hansen said the hospital Board completes a Facility Master Plan and a five-year Strategic Plan to eye where the organization is at and where it should be moving forward in an effort to best provide its clientele with top-tier facilities and treatment.

“Of course, one of our initiatives is to sustain and grow our services,” Hansen said of the five-year strategic plan. “With surgery, our volumes continue to increase as we grow, and so we’ve invested in expanding our Surgical Services department.”

Hansen said the Facility Master Plan takes the strategic plan, looks at the growth vision and analyzes what kinds of facilities are needed five years down the line to meet the vision of the strategic plan.

Increasing space and functionality within the Surgical Services department is of the utmost importance, Hansen said. Following the completion of CCH’s most recent fiscal year, doctors completed 600 more procedures than the previous fiscal period, an 8.5-percent increase.

As part of the project, the hospital is expanding from three to five operating rooms, consisting of a minor procedure room, two endoscopy rooms, as well as others used for same-day surgeries, a central sterile supply post and post-anesthesia recovery area.

“In eight-and-a-half years we’ve added a lot of different surgeons and a lot of different surgeon lines,” Hansen said. “The growth has been exponential in that eight-and-a-half years.”

Additional surgeons are being recruited to fill hospital positions over the course of the next several years, he added.

Under current blueprints, the Maternal Child Department is actually downsizing to three to four postpartum rooms and eight Labor, Delivery, Recovery and Postpartum (LDRP) rooms. 

“How we care for our OB (obstetrics) patients and babies changes, which really leads to the need to change our OB department, which has led to that,” said Dorothy Bybee, vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer.

The goal of the designed adjustment, she said, is to make the overall child-bearing experience as smooth-sailing as possible for all parties involved.

“Baby (already) stays with mom now, but you labor in one room and then you have to move into another room,” she said of the hospital’s current procedures. “So with the expansion, you will have labor and have your baby and stay in that one room and not have any disruptions.”

Hospital doctors deliver approximately 700 babies yearly at the facility, she said.

In addition, state-of-the-art enhancements are being made to the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Currently, the NICU is comprised of one bay with three beds occupying the space. The new NICU spaces will enable complete privacy for mother, father and child in their own bay area.

The new four-bed NICU facility will house infants facing a variety of circumstances.

“It could be a baby who is born early, a baby who is low in weight or has any kinds of concerns at birth,” Bybee said. “The important thing is that they have close observation from the nursing staff and they are highly monitored; their heart rate, respiratory rate, oxygenation – very close monitoring of those babies.”

The current Radiology Department is expanding with the addition of a new room housing a second computed tomography (CT) scanner, costing approximately $600,000.

“Our volumes for our CT scanner are very high, and then, also, when it goes down, which is occasionally, we have to bring in a mobile CT unit or send our patients elsewhere,” Hansen said. “So our volumes are to the point now where we can justify that second CT scanner, which will help us with throughput, improved efficiencies and then if it goes down, we will have a back-up that can continue while the other is being repaired.”

He also highlighted the importance of a second CT scanner regarding an emergency situation arising where a patient in question needs immediate CT attention when it's being occupied by another user.

The final leg of renovation and improvement includes certain departments and operations moving to different locations within the existing building.

The Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Department is moving to the first floor, Skilled Nursing is moving to the second floor and some administrative offices are moving to the first floor, as well. In addition, all conference rooms are moving from the third to first floor.

“This is a project that’s been in the development phases for well over two years,” said Clark Lehr, nine-year member and current chairman of the board. “We started conversations probably three years ago regarding what we need to do to meet the needs of our community, and our emphasis is totally on quality of care."

Quality of care, he said, encompasses many dynamics, including patient wellbeing, physician satisfaction, safety and efficiency within the hospital, he said.

This project was jumpstarted, in part, because the aging population is going to require a different set of care needs going forward even though the Columbus area population growth is only modest, Lehr said.

“We just needed to pick up our game a little bit,” he said.

The changes are being made with patients in mind, the leaders added.

“Our emphasis is really for people not to be in the hospital; our emphasis is for them to have healthy lifestyles and wellness outside,” Hansen said. “But, if they need to go to the hospital, then we want to be able to provide the highest quality and the best care that we can.”

Added Bybee: “Our community deserves exceptional care, deserves the best technology that we have to offer, and to me, it’s all about keeping care in the community. And this is all because our community members deserve it.”

Sam Pimper is news editor for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at

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