New Name, New Amenities Holyoke Medical Center Opens First Phase Of Its Addition Under Different Banner

Hank Porten says the word ‘hospital’ no longer accurately describes the full roster of services offered at the facility built more than a century ago on Beech Street in Holyoke.
And that’s why the name over the latest addition to what was originally called Holyoke City Hospital reads Holyoke Medical Center, said Porten, who presided over the unofficial opening of the first phase of an $11.1 million expansion and renovation project earlier this month.

Porten, the medical center’s president and CEO, said the name change was needed to reflect the technological advancements over the past several years that have put the facility in what he called a new “category.”

“With two medical office buildings and a list of services ranging from emergency medicine and cardiology to endrocrinology, a women’s center, and neurosurgery, we are a far different facility today than when we were first named Holyoke Hospital,” he said. “The new name reflects the far broader scope of our services.”

Porten talked about the name change as he offered The Healthcare News a tour of the 36,000-square-foot addition’s first phase, which includes a new, larger front entrance, patient-registration area, cardiology facilities, laboratory, medical records department, and coffee and gift shop.

“The old admitting area was made to handle about 60 people, and in recent years, we’ve had to take care of as many as 600,” Porten said. “We had people lined up down the hall — we were admitting people over the information desk.”

Porten said the facilities in the new addition — from the larger coffee and gift shop to a new area where patients can receive counseling in a private, comfortable setting — were created to enhance the patient experience and to simply give the hospital more room to operate — literally and figuratively.

The facilities are designed to be not only patient-friendly, but also low-maintenance, said Porten, enabling the medical center to better control many operational costs. The slate floor in the patient-registration and waiting area doesn’t have to be washed as often as traditional flooring, he explained, and is virtually maintenance-free.

The new cardiology facilities and laboratory are expected to be completed by January, said Porten, noting that various components of the addition are being opened as they are finished.
On the second floor of the addition, which is 13 months under construction, is a renovation of existing operating room suites in addition to two new operating rooms and two endocrinology labs. That segment of the project, to be completed in stages, should be wrapped up next summer, he said.

When completed, that phase of the project will enable the medical center to achieve progress in the number of surgical procedures conducted each year, and also in the quality of care being provided.

“From a quality perspective, our patient-recovery area is being fully pgraded to meet 21st-century demands and needs, and that’s important for us because our original facility was undersized,” Porten said. “The expansion will allow us to have more surgeries, which is obviously a need in our community.”

He said the current OR facilities are cramped and necessitate a packed schedule of procedures, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., including Saturdays and some Sundays. The expanded quarters will allow more flexibility, which is a benefit for both physicians and their patients.

Overall, the medical center is expecting a 5{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} to 10{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} boost in the number of surgical procedures, an important development at a time of growing demand for outpatient services, and when all health care providers are relying on volume to help them survive inadequate reimbursements from both public and private payers.

While the construction of the addition continues, so does the capital campaign to raise money for it.

The goal for that campaign was $4 million, and, to date, the committee charged with raising that figure has received about $3.3 million, said Porten, who wanted to remind friends of the hospital-turned-medical-center that, while the new name may be up over the door, the process of finishing the addition — and paying for it — is far from over.