Imaging Center aims to ease patient access project

By Amanda Moss

March 14, 2014

By Amanda Moss

ROCKINGHAM — FirstHealth Richmond Memorial Hospital is getting ready for a facelift.

There are two plans associated with updating the hospital’s radiology department, which looks the same as it did when it was built in 1980. One involves the relocation of the hospital’s magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to an area that is more convenient for patients. The total project cost is $1.9 million, and that includes the MRI truck which was purchased October 2013.

The second plan involves a $1.4 million renovation of the radiology department and waiting facility.

With the help of Turner Interiors construction company, the hospital aims to update its image with the Imaging Center project.

“We’re looking to have more of an outpatient-friendly area,” said John Tucker, director of imaging at FirstHealth.

The last big renovation the hospital had done was to its emergency department and outpatient facilities.

“Every 10 to 15 years we have to do something significant to meet the demands of the community,” Tucker said. “The trend in hospitals now is moving towards more outpatient services.”

The driver of the renovation is the movement of the hospital’s MRI. The current location exposes hospital patients to the weather elements, which is fine on sunny warm days, but when it is cold or raining, it is inconvenient and less comforting to patients to have to go outside in order to get the necessary procedure done.

“We want to develop something where a patient can walk from the reception area to the MRI without being exposed to weather,” said Cindy Hetzler, FirstHealth project manager.

The size and usability of the radiology department was also at issue when planning the renovations. The hospital wants to move towards a more outpatient friendly area by providing easy access to the new department for those needing to use the facility.

“The current waiting facility (in radiology) is very small,” Tucker said. “Also the area does not offer the patient much privacy when they are being transported to the area.”

Tucker said the new model will be sure to separate the radiology department from inpatient and outpatient surgery facilities, offering patients of the hospital more privacy. The radiology deparment will also be completely digital.

Field engineers from General Electric Healthcare were already on site installing the GE Digital Rad room in the hospital.

“We’re hoping that it will be up and running two weeks from today,” Tucker said.

In addition to all these changes, the hospital is also looking to add spaces to its parking lot to, again, provide easy access to the services the hospital offers.

The entire project should be completed by late July or early August, said Jason Sparks, project manager for Turner Interiors. The crew is currently solving some long standing issues with the original construction.

“Everything we’re doing is part of the FirstHealth commitment to the community to continue to provide advance medical care,” Tucker said. “This is just the first of many projects to come. By moving things around, we’re creating potential space for future projects. We also have a list of equipment that we want to upgrade when the time permits. Our goal is to make it easier and more convenient for patients.”