October 1, 2015
MetroWest495 Biz

Milford Regional cuts the ribbon on new ER, ICU

Courtesy
A rendering of the Meehan Family Pavilion, the new wing of Milford Regional Medical Center, is shown.

This morning, Milford Regional Medical Center officials and invited guests are gathering at the community hospital on Prospect Street to celebrate the end of a $54 million expansion project that adds space and technology in the emergency department and intensive care unit, as well as patient rooms.

A speaking program will begin at 10:15 today, followed by a tour.

At a time when small hospitals are struggling to keep profits steady (and in some cases, just to stay in the black), Milford Regional's new wing is a sign that the independent community hospital is thriving. Serving residents of the MetroWest and the Blackstone Valley regions, Milford Regional has avoided linking up with a large system by avoiding fads and sticking to "basic, community care," according to Milford Regional president Edward Kelly.

Kelly recalled that when he joined Milford Regional 23 years ago, many community hospitals were on the brink of joining larger systems or closing, and the future was uncertain. By focusing on quality, Milford Regional has survived, he said. But it's been challenged, with an overcrowded emergency room and not enough capacity beyond the ER to care for admitted patients who are critically ill.

Adding capacity, and privacy

Today, the 145-bed acute care hospital serves a population of 250,000 people across 20 towns. Milford Regional's emergency department hadn't been renovated since the early 1980s and patients have sometimes had to receive treatment on gurneys in hallways on busy days.

The new wing is known as the Meehan Family Pavilion, in honor of the project's largest single donor. The new emergency room, on the ground level of the new wing, is virtually double the size of the old one, according to Kelly, going from 30 to 50 beds with capacity for 70,000 visits annually. Upstairs, the new ICU will contain 16 beds, an increase of six beds from the current ICU, and will be equipped with state-of-the art equipment to improve functionality. They will also be larger, so it's easier for staff and families to move around. Also on the upper level, a medical-surgical unit with 24 patient rooms will create additional capacity. Finally, an underground parking garage offers convenient access for patients and visitors. All told, the project adds about 115,000 square feet to the hospital.

The new wing will not increase the number of beds for which Milford Regional is licensed, Kelly said, but it will allow the hospital to be more efficient. There are a number of multi-bed rooms that can't always be utilized because patients with infections may not share rooms, and men and women also must be boarded separately. The new wing contains all private rooms, and Kelly said that will also boost patient satisfaction, as patients prefer them, and they're more conducive to rest and healing. Eventually, Kelly said he hopes all Milford Regional rooms will be private.

"We won't be completely there (when the new wing opens) but are really trying to move towards private rooms," Kelly said.

Meeting the cost

After investing in a new cancer care center in 2008, and a surgery program in 2005, hospital executives knew it was time for a more sizeable project to address capacity issues. Realizing that the ER and the ICU would both need to grow, Kelly said they soon discovered they were facing a $54 million job. The hospital would be able to borrow half, but the rest would need to be raised.

Through individual employee contributions, plus larger gifts from donors like Kevin Meehan, owner of a sprawling car dealership and retail plaza in Mendon, Milford Regional is only about $10,000 away from its $25 million fundraising goal. Meehan gave $5 million to kick off fundraising two years ago. And to finish the campaign off, an anonymous donor last month offered a $1 million matching donation. Every dollar raised up to $1 million will be matched in order to hit the goal.

Of construction, Kelly said the process "couldn't have gone better." The timeline for opening the new departments hasn't substantially changed since construction began early last year. The public will be able to catch the first glimpse of the new ER, ICU and patient rooms during an open house on Sunday. The hospital will then take a phased approach to transitioning patient care to the new wing, with the new ICU opening on Oct. 14, the new medical-surgical unit opening Oct. 21, and the new emergency department opening Oct. 28.

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