The youth was invited to assist in the ribbon cutting, as medical staff noted that the children are the future and they will determine the future of medical care. Monday evening’s open house and remarks were followed by a tour of the expanded facility, which will officially open Aug. 20.
Wilbur Smith, the center’s executive director, said that with the growth of the facility, they also plan to expand services offered to the public. While it’s not yet set in stone, Smith said they want to provide services on weekends and stay open later during the evening, but they’re running into difficulties since the mall closes at 7 p.m.
But so far the director has not been deterred by difficulties, he said, noting the staff has been behind each project. He attributed the expansion’s success to the employees who set their sights on offering patients a better experience when they need medical care.
“If you put your mind to it, you can make it work,” said clinical medical assistant Josean Joseph, one of the staff members who helped to coordinate the project. “It’s a great improvement since the volume of patients has increased.”
Joseph said the medical center was not expecting to expand its patient volume so dramatically, but with the closing of other facilities, they have more patients than ever.
“This won’t be the stopping place,” she said of the renovations. “With the tremendous growth we’re experiencing, this can only be temporary. With the economy, people just want to be cared for. We want to make people feel comfortable,” Joseph said.
Although the facility likely will not be a permanent fix, Wilbur Smith said they’ve done projections and hope they can continue to use the facility for years to come. He said between 2009 and 2010, the patient volume grew by 97 percent and about half that the following year. The center is still going over numbers for this year, but they expect that their prediction of 35 percent will actually be twice as much.
With stark white walls and new equipment in place, the expansion area shows a sharp contrast to the old area. There is a strong possibility the old area will also go through some renovations in the future.
The renovated area includes a new laboratory, triage rooms, a waiting room and handicap-accessible restrooms. Employees were excited to show off the new, larger spaces.
Guests toured the complete facility in groups, learning about the expansion and getting a look at how much smaller the original area is. Staff members will still use both areas of the medical center, but will have more room to accommodate patients and lab work.
The medical center is federally funded through grants and the local government as a nonprofit organization and welcomes residents with or without insurance.