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Fletcher Allen Seeks Approval to Build New Inpatient Building

BURLINGTON, Vt. — Fletcher Allen Health Care recently filed a Certificate of Need application t with the Green Mountain Care Board seeking the board’s approval to build a 128-bed inpatient building to replace the most outdated inpatient facilities on the Medical Center Campus. The submission of this CON is part two of a three-part process, where part one was preliminary planning under the Conceptual CON issued August 2013, and part three will be the submission of final project costs in November 2014 after construction costs associated with the final design documents have been verified.

FletcherAllen_1The new facilities will seek LEED certification and be consistent with contemporary hospital standards and the demands of healthcare reform, which call for high-quality, closely coordinated, cost-effective care.

The preliminary cost estimate is $175 million. Additionally, the interest paid during the construction period on bonds needed to finance the project will amount to an estimated $12.7 million and must be included with the project cost, making the total amount requiring approval $187.7 million.

“I’m confident that this new facility will help us provide a better healing environment, preserve our medical center campus for its highest and best use—caring for the sickest and most complex patients in our region—and ensure appropriate regional bed capacity for our four-hospital network,” said John Brumsted, M.D., president and CEO, Fletcher Allen Health Care and Fletcher Allen Partners.

“Arriving at this point has required a great deal of thoughtful deliberation from trustees, leaders, physicians, nurses and staff representing departments across the organization; design, planning and construction teams and patients and families who participated in design groups and interviews. We’ve also received valuable input from and collaborated with other key stakeholders, such as the University of Vermont, the City of Burlington and our Ward One neighbors,” Brumsted continued. “Each stakeholder had a common goal: creating a patient and family-centered facility that will match the high quality of healthcare that our doctors, nurses and staff deliver each and every day, while enhancing efficiency and proving cost effective over time. I believe this proposal will help us achieve that goal.”

The project’s specific objectives are to:

Improve quality

  • Begin replacement of aging inpatient facilities with a new inpatient building that is highly patient centered, improves the quality of patient care.
  • Increase the number of private patient rooms to promote healing and accommodate patient families, consistent with contemporary design standards.
    • Only 81 of Fletcher Allen’s existing 237 medical/surgical beds (30 percent) are located in private (single-occupancy) rooms. Current hospital design standards require private rooms for new hospital construction.
    • The project will address this deficiency by replacing 128 of Fletcher Allen’s existing beds with single-occupancy rooms.
    • As a result of the project, approximately 85-90 percent of Fletcher Allen’s medical/surgical beds will be in single-occupancy rooms and Fletcher Allen’s most outdated inpatient rooms in Shepardson North will be replaced.

Ensure appropriate regional bed capacity

  • Meet community needs for inpatient care with an appropriate number of beds, based upon:
    • An assessment of existing regional inpatient bed capacity, including existing inpatient facilities of Fletcher Allen and its affiliated hospitals in Fletcher Allen Partners.
    • Careful consideration of health reform goals and ongoing initiatives of Fletcher Allen Partners to reduce inpatient bed utilization through collaborative regional planning efforts.

Accomplish objectives within available financial resources

  • Assure the project is:
    • Financially feasible.
    • Within the debt capacity of Fletcher Allen Partners, while maintaining strong “A” credit rating.
  • Minimize the financial impact on patients by:
    • Assuring hospital rates and charges resulting from the project will not adversely affect patients and their payers.
    • Adding incremental annual operating expenses of approximately $16.1 million upon occupancy in FY 2019 or approximately 1.5 percent of Fletcher Allen’s projected overall operating annual operating budget.
    • Having Fletcher Allen Partners continue to undertake aggressive system-wide efforts to reduce operating costs and offset project-related incremental costs.

Project plan, scope

With these objectives, Fletcher Allen proposes construction of a seven-story inpatient building with approximately 180,000 square feet on the west side of Fletcher Allen’s Main Campus above the existing ED parking lot with four floors of 32 single-occupancy, medical-surgical rooms for a total of 128 inpatient rooms. Two of the remaining floors would be mechanical space. The first floor would house a new entrance and parking for the ED.

The project would not involve any increase in the number of Fletcher Allen’s inpatient beds. The approximate number of existing staffed beds (447) would initially be maintained. Flexibility would also be preserved to reduce beds in the future as health reform initiatives succeed in reducing inpatient utilization. The project also does not involve the introduction of any new services.

Timetable

It will take approximately 38 months for design and construction after the CON is issued. Assuming prior issuance of a CON and all other necessary permits, construction would begin in May 2015 and the new building would be occupied in September 2018.

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Posted October 6, 2014

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