In the trenches.
That’s where Joseph Wright said most of the dollars were earned during Holyoke Medical Center’s two-year fund-drive for an expansion project that has just reached completion.
The project, which included the construction of seven new operating rooms, two endoscopy rooms, a cardiac catheterization lab, a revamped front lobby, and a number of new departments, carried an $11.1 million price tag. The ‘Yours for Life’ fundraising committee, led by Wright and his wife, Angela, set a goal of $4 million when it set out to offset some of the costs of the endeavor, and in late September Wright announced that the committee had surpassed that goal.
ubsequently, the group’s efforts made the Yours for Life campaign the largest and most successful in Holyoke’s history.
“It hasn’t even ended yet,” said Wright, noting that contributions were still trickling in when the center was unveiled to the public. “We’re still at it. We’ve got some grants pending, and we’re holding periodic board meetings. Once you start something like this, I don’t know that you can just stop at the goal you set … you have to keep plugging away.”
Over the past two years, the Wrights and their “foot soldiers,” as they call them, planned and implemented fundraisers ranging from motorcycle rides and Caribbean dinners to long nights at a makeshift phone bank, making calls requesting assistance from businesses and individuals.
“We brought it all in one donation at a time,” Wright told The Healthcare News. “It has been enjoyable, wonderful, and full of surprises.”
Wright said an additional $1.2 million in federal funding also went toward the project, due in part to assistance from Congressman John Olver and U.S. Senators Edward Kennedy and John Kerry. The remaining $5.8 million was secured through bank financing.
Going With The Flow
Although a few finishing touches are still being made to the new area at the hospital, HMC President Hank Porten said the new additions will ultimately streamline the admitting process, offer new surgical services to patients, and increase the number of patients that come through HMC’s doors on a daily basis.
“Originally, we were seeing 60 patients a day. Now that number is going to increase to 600 to 800,” said Porten. “We’re also allowing for some major technological advances here.”
Among those advances will be neurosurgical procedures that were not available at the medical center before.
“This new area has allowed us to add brand-new specialties like neurosurgery, and to recruit some great neurosurgeons to work here,” said Brenda Loguidice, manager of peri-operative services at Holyoke Medical Center. “In fact, the biggest benefit to surgical services here will be the two huge operating rooms that have been constructed to offer new technology such as neurosurgery.”
Loguidice added that the expansion project also created a new post-anesthesia unit that will hold 15 beds, and endoscopy suites that improve the center’s service to patients having endoscopic procedures such as colonoscopies. Currently, HMC handles about 2,600 such procedures a year, said Loguidice, adding that in the past, patients had to be shuttled in and out of treatment rooms that sometimes had as much as a three- to four-minute walk separating them.
“We will be much more efficient as far as flow of patients through the hospital, and privacy is going to be increased,” she said.
In fact, a number of the improvements made to the center were initiated with quality of patient care in mind. Some of the operating rooms at HMC dated back to the 1950s prior to the expansion project, said Loguidice, and many procedures, including cardiac surgeries, required that the center refer patients to other hospitals. She noted that for the population of Holyoke, the medical center is their community hospital, and traveling to another location for treatment can be stressful.
“The medical center has a following of people who have lived in Holyoke their whole lives,” she said. “This is their hospital, and they don’t want to have to go to Springfield and deal with unfamiliar places, streets, and people. Now that we can offer more services, we can offer a greater level of comfort to our patient population.”
Loguidice said that despite the scale of the expansion project, the changes to HMC still fit well into the overall landscape of the hospital – in both design and objective.
“It fits pretty well into the footprint we have here,” she said. “The design, the colors, and the lights all make it a much brighter and spacious space, and people are greeted by that beautiful new lobby. It fits with the feel of our hospital, too; when you walk into any hospital, you get a feeling about it, based on the people that work there and the way things look. Here, people are happy. People are smiling.”