MATTHEWS – Leaders with Novant Health Matthews Medical Center aren’t used to sitting idle. And that’s something they won’t have to worry about for at least two more years as the group prepares for construction on a recently approved women’s center.
The 26,500-square-foot center will be located on the Matthews hospital’s second floor and include seven new labor and delivery and post-partum beds to increase the number at the campus to 30. Two ante-partum and two GYN beds also will be added as part of the expansion project, and 20 inpatient beds also will be transferred to the Matthews center from uptown Charlotte.
The effort began two years ago, when hospital officials hosted a strategic planning session to focus on where they envisioned the Matthews campus going in the next three to five years. The hospital has seen the number of births in Matthews top 1,200 deliveries a year, and expects to see more than 2,000 births in 2014, so refurbishing and improving the women’s services was vital for hospital leaders.
“It is very exciting,” said Pat Campbell, vice president of women’s services for Novant. “We do have a great facility, but … the team really wanted to create more of a true women’s center in that we had a great birthing center, but wouldn’t it be great to ensure that inpatients having GYN procedures … would be grouped in a women’s area (where) we would have some dedicated space for breast feeding support, our lactation consultant, classroom space, some sort of a separate identity for women as they come in for inpatient services at the Matthews
The expansion will allow the hospital to have more educational programs for patients and a few “unique options,” Campbell said, including a breastfeeding class, offerings in the prenatal setting and a financial planning class for expecting couples.
“Not only are we going to grow the space, we are going to enhance the services we offer today for tomorrow,” said Roland Bibeau, president of Novant Health Matthews Medical Center. “We need to really look at both (the building and services offered there) if we are going to look into the future of our organization.”
The project, on which construction is scheduled to begin in early 2015, comes on the heels of the hospital’s expansion into a fifth floor. That work, which was completed last fall, created 26,000 square feet of space for the hospital that allowed for 20 additional beds and three hospice and palliative care rooms. That expansion also marked a change for the hospital as it worked to incorporate new equipment and the move toward electronic records, and secure storage areas outside each room so nurses can reach needed items without having to run down the hallway each time.
The new center will include all the improvements seen throughout the rest of the campus, while renovations to the current rooms will bring them up to “like-new” standards, Bibeau said.
The ongoing improvements at Novant Matthews are good news for the campus, but also the town, Mayor Jim Taylor said. Taylor has been an advocate for the hospital and spoke on behalf of the facility for Novant’s certificate of need request to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. Novant also has been a partner in many of the town’s endeavors and events throughout the last 20 years.
“The fact that you have a very high-quality, ever-growing and expanding … premier medical facility right in your back yard is a big plus, not only for people you are trying to attract to move and live here but also companies that will move and bring employees here,” Taylor said. “… In and around Matthews, they really are a true example of a partner with the town. They give back to the community that they serve. … They’ve chosen to be a part of the community as opposed to just being in the community.”
And the community has given a lot back to the hospital, Bibeau said. The hospital has been a large part of the town for 20 years, both Bibeau and Taylor said, and will continue to be so.
“I think, as the hospital has grown over the years and the number of small and large expansions, it is a tremendous asset to the community,” Taylor said. “The town has grown as the hospital has grown.”
Crews will begin renovating the current women’s center space in early May, Bibeau said. That will take eight to nine months and should be ready by the middle of December.
Meanwhile, designers will begin digging into planning for the new center in the next two weeks, which should take three to six months, Bibeau said. The hospital will then go through the permitting process with the county in hopes of beginning construction in early 2015. Construction will be a seven- to nine-month process, and Bibeau hopes to have the newly renovated space and new construction space both functioning by the end of 2015.