NORMAN — Moore Medical’s temporary emergency department has been serving the public for almost three months now and the community is responding, Norman Regional Health system officials reported.
“We opened the emergency room on Dec. 2 and about 36 days after opening, we cared for our 1,000th patient — that was in spite of two ice and/or snow storms, Christmas and New Year’s holidays,” Moore Medical CEO Richie Splitt said.
Splitt heads the HealthPlex in Norman, as well as the Moore facility. Both are part of the Norman Regional Health System.
“In 81 days, we’ve surpassed 3,000 patients that we’ve seen, and that’s just in the emergency room,” Splitt said. “That doesn’t include the outpatient imaging — CT, X-ray and ultra sound.”
The temporary emergency facility is modeled after the one used in Joplin, Mo., after a tornado wiped out that city’s hospital. Both were constructed by Johnson Portables, a Michigan company that designed the special modular units.
From the outside, the series of buildings may look different than the average hospital, but once inside, people will feel they are in a typical hospital setting, Splitt said.
The temporary ED has all of the technology needed to serve emergency patients and outpatients needing imaging services.
“The community has responded very favorably,” Splitt said.
Before it was destroyed by the May 20 tornado, Moore Medical Center was seeing about 100 patients a day. The temporary facility is seeing about half that number, but the numbers are trending upward as word gets out that the facility is open.
“The patients who used the (Moore Medical) facility before recognize and appreciate that it’s the same staff that it was before,” Splitt said. “ It’s a little like coming home.”
Inside, the temporary medical facility looks and functions like a permanent hospital.
“We provide the same emergency care that was provided at Moore Medical Center before the tornado,” Splitt said. “We’re looking for that day when we might see 80 patients in a day. We’re looking for that benchmark. We’re building trust in the community with high-quality care.”
Meanwhile, plans are progressing for the new permanent facility to be built on the site.
“We are working on finalizing the layout and design of the new facility, and we’ve identified many of the services we want to provide on site,” Splitt said. “The next challenge is the patient and work flow.”
Plans currently under way include detailed logistics of patient services and movement. The groundbreaking for the new facility is scheduled for the one-year anniversary of the storm on May 20.
“We want to remember the courage and the caring that happened on that day while we fix our eyes on the bright future, not only for our facility but for the city of Moore,” Splitt said. “We’re working with the city to figure out how we’re going to coordinate those events.”
Splitt said the goal is to balance remembering the loss with celebrating the future.
“We want to have a remembrance element in our new permanent structure,” he said.
Hospital officials will pursue a public art project for the new facility. Splitt said it will be a significant project and a call to artists will go out once the budget and a selection committee is established.
He said there will be an external component that will lead to an internal piece. It will be of a scope likely to draw international interest, and they are hoping for a “competitive and robust response from the arts community.”
Moore Medical staff and health system leadership want the new Moore Medical Center to be a medical home that provides well care, not just sick care, for the residents of Moore, Splitt said.
Since the tornado displaced residents and patients, the Norman Regional Health System has seen an increase in patients at the nearby HealthPlex and at Norman’s Porter campus.
“Our women’s and children’s services have seen an increase,” Splitt said of the HealthPlex. “We had one month in which we had a record-breaking number of babies born at this facility.”
The HealthPlex also has seen an increase in imaging services and surgical volume.
“We’ve seen patients coming to this facility recently for some of the services provided in Moore,” he said.
NRHS has added two new surgical suites at the HealthPlex, including a state-of-the-art robotic surgery suite that is only the second of its kind in the nation. Doctors operate the robot.
“It is technologically advanced,” Splitt said. “That robot allows for faster healing times and less scarring.”
The use of robotics also allows special lighting, which is better for surgeons and patients.
Another suite is nearly finished and allows for more capacity for orthopedic and heart cases, Splitt said.
“We are adding 32 beds to the fifth floor of this (HealthPlex) facility and will begin construction on the first of March,” Splitt said. “It should be about a six- to ninth-month project. The goal is to have those beds open by fall of this year. Because of the increased volume we’re looking to add additional imaging technology and service to accommodate the demand.”
The HealthPlex is an accredited chest pain center.
“That was a yearlong process, but it allows us to demonstrate to the community that we have that very high level of care,” Splitt said. “We are the second in the state and the only one in the metro region to have that designation. When the residents of Moore and Norman need that cardiac care, they can have that confidence in our staff.”
Splitt said someone found the American flag that flew at Moore Medical Center. It is being framed and will be on display at the ED soon and then at the future permanent facility.
In October, the Norman Regional Hospital Authority approved plans for a five-story, 100,000-square-foot, $28.8 million facility for the Moore Medical Center rebuild. The new medical center will offer emergency and outpatient services, as well as lab and imaging such as ultrasound and X-ray.
Up to 80,000 square feet of medical office space will accommodate displaced physicians, other physicians and specialists and additional outpatient and ancillary services. Community education meeting space will accommodate 50 to 100 people for medical education, health screenings and meetings.
The proposed design will feature a modern look to go with a modern vision. The center will look similar to the HealthPlex, and Splitt said it will provide convenience of access.
Future phases could include physical therapy and a birthing center. If the market merits, the design allows for a possible expansion corridor that would allow for a patient tower with inpatient beds.
“This will be a development structure unlike anything we’ve seen today,” Splitt said following the October decision. “Modern health care today demands that we are efficient.”
The structure will make use of vertical space for a smaller footprint than the previous 45-bed hospital. The new facility is projected to open in 2016.