New Fillmore County Hospital ready to admit patients on March 1

2012-02-24T22:00:00Z New Fillmore County Hospital ready to admit patients on March 1By ALGIS J. LAUKAITIS / Lincoln Journal Star JournalStar.com
February 24, 2012 10:00 pm  • 

GENEVA -- The new $18.5 million Fillmore County Hospital will make life easier for folks to live around here when it opens Thursday.

Patients won't have to walk down the hallway to shower like they do in the old hospital, which dates back to 1961.

Each patient room will have its own, wheelchair-accessible, spacious bathroom.

"The old hospital has very small bathrooms, and you have to go in sideways," Nursing Director Lisa Hopken said during a recent tour.

The hospital also has an adjoining medical clinic; a physical therapy area with a pool; two labor, delivery and recovery rooms; specialty clinics; two emergency room bays; a negative-pressure isolation room; and a central entrance.

"I'm just really excited. I feel like we have a new house and we're moving in," Hopken said.

The old hospital's CT scanner will make the move, but none of the furniture will, not even bedside tables, she said. The new hospital is done in mission style, with lots of dark wood.

Patients will be transferred beginning at 9 a.m. Thursday, with the help of the Geneva Rescue Squad and the hospital's own ambulance service.

The new hospital covers about 52,000 square feet, compared with 40,000 in the old. The campus, which includes a lighted helicopter pad, sits on 17.5 acres.

Amber Taylor, marketing coordinator and compliance officer, said the site was chosen for its accessibility and room for expansion.

"We had five or six landowners gracious enough to sell us their property," she said.

The new hospital has 18 rooms, compared with 25 at the old one. Hopken said the lower number was chosen based on a study of the future needs of the county and its nearly 6,000 residents.

The public, not-for-profit hospital is managed by a board of trustees, whose members are appointed by the Filmore County Board of Supervisors. The county owns the land and the building.

Voters approved issuing up to $18 million in bonds in August 2010, and construction started two months later.

"Every voting district in the county voted for it," said hospital CEO Paul Utemark, who noted that with 110 employees and an annual payroll of $5.5 million, the hospital is the county's second-largest employer.

Hopken said the hospital's daily patient population is about eight, but it has had as many as 15 stay for several days. Sometimes they've had only three or four, she said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, through its Rural Development Program, gave the county a $12.6 million loan at 3.75 percent interest for 40 years, according to Janice Stopak, an area specialist for the program in Nebraska. The county also got a $5.4 million bank loan, she said.

The hospital is the newest to open in rural Nebraska recently. Beatrice Community Hospital opened earlier this month, as did Pender Community Hospital in Pender.

In the past several years, hospitals also have opened in Ord, Saunders County and in Cambridge, said Al Klaasmeyer, a vice president of the Nebraska Hospital Association.

Fillmore County worked with Health Facilities Group, an architectural firm in Omaha that also designed a hospital in Neodesha, Kan., which was selected as the model for Geneva.

Reach Algis J. Laukaitis at 402-473-7243 or alaukaitis@journalstar.com.

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