|What's behind Janesville's health care construction boom?|
|Written by Dan Plutchak|
|Wednesday, 24 August 2011 12:25|
Construction continues to move along on the St. Mary's Janesville Hospital. Staff photo.
(Read the story in the e-edition HERE)
JANESVILLE — By 2012, Janesville will have witnessed the construction or expansion of more than 300,000 square feet in new health care facilities.
The largest project is the 163,000-square-foot, 50-bed St. Mary’s Janesville Hospital and adjacent Dean Clinic scheduled to open in early January near Interstate 90/39 and Racine Street on Janesville’s southeast side.
“We heard from the community that they were asking for choice in health care,” said Kerry Swanson, president of St. Mary’s Hospital Janesville.
Swanson said the decision to build the new hospital also was prompted by studies that show the population of Janesville is aging.
“The more people that age, the more necessary it is to have health care services for them,” Swanson said. “We recognized there was an opportunity to open a hospital in Janesville.”
While the St. Mary’s project progresses on schedule, Janesville-based Mercy Health System recently started construction on a $10 million expansion at Mercy Hospital and Trauma Center that will end this fall, about the same time it completes a similarly priced renovation and expansion of Mercy Clinic East in Janesville.
“Our recent expansion projects to our existing facilities are proactive changes to reflect the feedback provided and are a culmination of many years of planning, hard work and dedication, and represent our commitment to … our community and the people we care for,” Mercy President and CEO Javon Bea wrote in an email. “We became a level II trauma center in 2009 … and since then, we have admitted more than 600 trauma cases to Mercy Hospital and Trauma Center, and more importantly, Mercy has decreased patient transfers to other trauma facilities by 80 percent.”
Mercy also recently announced plans to begin construction this fall on a primary-care clinic near Interstate 39/90 on Deerfield Drive on Janesville’s north side.
The new 20,000-square-foot facility will include an urgent care clinic, 24-hour emergency department and community and emergency medical services education space. This first phase is the Mercy Hospital and Trauma Center Emergency North and Mercy Clinic North. There are plans to develop the adjacent land into specialty physician offices and related services, with a third phase offering inpatient services.
“By having these two medical communities (St. Mary’s and Mercy) … (Janesville is) becoming a regional health care community,” said Vic Grassman, economic development director for the city of Janesville. “Being a synergy for medical-related industries, we’re hoping that our proximity to Madison and UW-Madison research (hospital) helps in bringing those types of companies to Janesville.”
‘Hometown’ health care
Patient rooms in the new St. Mary’s Hospital Janesville are located on the perimeter of the third floor to allow for countryside views for patients. The second floor is for obstetrics, labor and delivery, and includes six, 600-square-foot operating and procedure rooms and 22 pre- and post-operation rooms. The first floor contains the emergency department, with 12 separate emergency rooms, and a two-ambulance garage. The first floor also features two rooms dedicated to trauma victims, labs and radiology. The Town Square that connects with the Dean Clinic on the first floor, which features nearly floor-to-ceiling glass, will include a cafeteria and chapel.
Dean Health System and Riverview Surgery Center physicians and surgeons, already practicing in Janesville, will provide most of the medical services at the new St. Mary’s Hospital Janesville, with some specialized medical care provided by staff from St. Mary’s in Madison and St. Clare in Baraboo.
“It’s still the same physicians that everyone in Janesville knows and trusts,” Swanson said, adding the Janesville hospital would meet about 95 percent of the medical needs of its patients. The only areas not offered in Janesville will be heart surgery and neurosurgery.
“We’re targeting our Dean Health Plan patients,” Swanson said. “We know about 40 percent of the Janesville population leave the area for health care — many of them go to St. Mary’s in Madison — so this gives us an opportunity to bring those people back to their hometown for health care.”
Hiring under way
St. Mary’s Janesville has already started the process of hiring 300 to 350 employees for its hospital operations.
“That number will include some internal transfers and external hires,” said Eric Thornton, director of human resources. “We don’t know at this point how many internal transfers we’ll have because they’re considered right along with our other applicants.”
All candidates must apply online at www.stmarysjanesville.com.
“We are pleased that the majority of our hires have come from local applicants and we expect that trend to continue,” Thornton said.
The final employment openings for support staff and food service will be posted online in the next two weeks. Staff-level employees will begin employment with St. Mary’s in October in order to have training time before the January opening.
High-quality nursing programs at Blackhawk Technical College and the University of Wisconsin-Rock County, both in Janesville, should provide adequate staffing for the hospital in the future, Swanson said.
“We’ve collaborated with Mercy on a … bachelor of nursing program that will keep nurses here in our community,” Swanson said. “The most satisfying thing is having the opportunity to bring good-paying jobs to this area.”
Looking to the future
Road improvements, including traffic signals and left-turn lanes at Racine Street and Midland Road, which were made as part of the St. Mary’s project, could become a catalyst for future development, Grassman said.
“We’re looking at the area on Racine Street east of St. Mary’s as developing those types of buildings that can support St. Mary’s,” Grassman said, adding the same will likely occur near the Mercy Deerfield site. “You’re probably going to see similar types of growth and/or more retail development.”
An example of the synergy Grassman describes was evident in May when Home Health United, a licensed skilled home-nursing service, moved from its North Washington Street location in Janesville to a new 8,000-square-foot building at County Highway J and Racine Street, adjacent to the St. Mary’s-Dean campus.
“Being able to make sure we have easy access to those patients, to get equipment to them, the close proximity does make sense from that standpoint,” said Rick Bourne, president and CEO of Home Health United.
Developments like the Home Health United facility are just the beginning, Grassman said.
“There will be some synergy, because those hospitals are bringing outside dollars into the region and new people — that’s all going to spread,” Grassman said.
Next year could mark the beginning of a transition for Janesville — from a city connected closely to the automobile industry — to a region known for health care.
|Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 August 2011 12:32|