Hospital gets facelift

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Hospital gets facelift
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As Inova Alexandria Hospital celebrates its 135th birthday, plans are moving forward on the 2010 renovation and expansion project, the largest construction project at the hospital since it was built.

Hospital administrators and board members, Alexandria officials and friends of the hospital gathered last week to celebrate 135 years of service to the Alexandria community. Margaret Bush, U.S. President George W. Bushs sister-in-law, brought a letter from the president congratulating the hospital on its many years of providing excellent health care to the community.

Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille is a member of the Hospital Foundations board of directors. The hospital provides excellent care to the people of Alexandria and the surrounding area and we are proud to support them, he said.

Hospital officials say they hope this support will translate into more city dollars to help with the 2010 project. The project will cost $84 million, said Hospital Chief Operating Officer Kathy Barry. We are planning to raise $25 million of that through our philanthropy outreach. We have already raised $12 million, so we are well on our way.

We have asked City Council to consider supporting our efforts because the renovation and expansion is going to enable us to provide more and better service to our patients, Barry said.

Inova has asked the city for a maximum contribution of $2.5 million, which could be paid in annual contributions of $250,000 for the next 10 years. We are very sensitive to the citys budget demands and are only asking for councils consideration, Barry said. If they are unable to make the maximum contribution, there are many other levels at which they could support our efforts.

The project includes the construction of two new intervention laboratories and 24 private cardiac care rooms. These rooms are not additional beds but are a restructuring of rooms that were previously semi-private, Barry said. We are doing this to better serve our patients.

The hospitals emergency department will get a new eight-bed unit where patients can be monitored.

Sometimes when patients come into the emergency department, it is difficult to assess whether they need to be hospitalized. This new unit will allow us to monitor them carefully and respond to test results immediately. We believe that this is a very important piece of providing excellent emergency care to those who use the hospital, Barry said.

The city gives the hospital $700,000 each year to defray the cost of indigent care, which has increased over the years. Our direct costs to provide care to those who cannot pay are now $18 million a year, Barry said.

Euille said he believes the city should pay its fair share of those growing bills.

We have been giving the hospital $700,000 for about 15 years and its time to consider increasing that contribution, he said. I think we need to look at increasing our contribution by around $300,000 to make it an even million a year. This money would come out of our operating budget and not our capital program, but would free up money that the hospital uses for indigent care to be used for something else. 

Council already needs to find about $50 million to pay for unfunded capital projects that are planned for FY 2009 and $8 million in operating money if City Manager Jim Hartmann wants to spend the maximum 5 percent over this years budget that council has allowed.

The hospital will present its case along with city agencies and other nonprofit organizations during councils budget deliberations this spring.

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