A rendering of the expansion project at the Westport Health Center.
Elizabethtown Community Hospital will begin an expansion and renovation project at its health center in Westport in mid-April.
Initially, the Westport Health Center will undergo a 3,700 square foot expansion that will provide space for the growing medical practice. The new space will include a comfortable waiting room, seven exam rooms, office space for physicians, a private registration area, nurses’ work station, lab area, procedure room, and patient consultation room.
Once the expansion is complete, staff and equipment will move into the new space. Phase two of the project includes renovation of the existing 2,000 square foot building. It will be renovated to include a conference room, staff meeting space, storage and office space.
“The health center is currently located in a building that no longer provides adequate space for patients’, physician or staff needs,” said Matt Nolan, chief operating officer at ECH. “Physicians and support staff are currently working in cramped spaces, there are a limited number of exam rooms, privacy needs to be enhanced and there is virtually no storage space for supplies.”
Nolan explained that the hospital has been working with its architectural design firm for well over a year to ensure that all requirements are incorporated.
“The appearance of the existing building will not be changed; and its stonework and character will be reflected in the new construction. We are proud to be able to meld the health center’s needs with the appearance of the existing building,” he said.
The expansion and renovation includes developing more appropriate space for the building’s heating, cooling and telecommunications infrastructure.
“The requirements for the facility’s mechanical and communications systems have increased over the years with the inclusion of electronic medical record technology and fiber optic connectivity; so essentially, the building’s mechanical systems have also run out of room,” Nolan said.
According to Community Relations Director Jane Hooper, the hospital operates health centers throughout Essex County.
“The hospital’s vision is to offer primary healthcare services through a network of community-based health centers,” Hooper said. “This allows for continuity of care between the health centers and the main hospital facility.”
Upgrades to these health centers allow ECH staff to provide services in a comfortable setting, for both patients and staff.
“It’s important for residents of, and visitors to, the region to be able to receive quality healthcare close to their home communities. Ensuring that the health centers are modernized makes it much easier for community members to access their primary care services,” Hooper said.
The hospital’s telemedicine capabilities will also be enhanced. The hospital and health center currently have the ability to connect with each other through high definition telemedicine units, allowing physicians and nurses to consult with one another. The increase in space will ensure that the telemedicine unit has a dedicated space, so that consultations can take place more easily.
Nolan explained that patients won’t notice a disruption in care.
“We expect a very smooth transition,” he said. “Patients will be able to meet with their primary care provider throughout the construction process. Once construction is complete, patients will notice a significant enhancement to the services offered. The lab area and procedure room will allow many patients to obtain these additional services at one convenient location.”
The hospital owns four community-based health centers, located in Westport, Willsboro, Wilmington and Elizabethtown. Construction should be complete in November.