Petersburg Medical Center staff and board members met with the Petersburg Borough Assembly Dec. 5 to talk about the master plan that is looking at options for a new or remodeled hospital. (L-R at table) Hospital Board member Cindi Lagoudakis, Borough Assemblyman Jeff Meucci, Borough Assemblywoman Brandi Marohl, PMC CEO Phil Hofstetter. (Photo by Angela Denning/KFSK)

The Petersburg Medical Center has narrowed down what it wants in a new hospital. A single level building is favored and this means the community hospital would likely need to move locations from the downtown area. KFSK’s Angela Denning reports:

An architect with a Seattle firm contracted to do a master plan visited Petersburg last week to share what it’s come up with for the initial sketches of a new hospital. Managers with the Petersburg Medical Center all weighed in.

“We had a rousing discussion about this,” said Dan Jardine, one of architects working on the Petersburg project.

Jardine also meet with the Petersburg Borough Assembly and the Hospital Board in a joint work session. He said they’re at the very beginning stage of designing options and are mainly focusing on the layouts of the different hospital departments.

“We’re not designing a hospital at this point,” he said. “We’re looking at special arrangements, departmental proximities, sizes, and how all these things might fit together.”

In other words, what should be where? Should the physical therapy department be next to the clinic, for example, or long-term care?

The master plan looks at two main location options: keeping the same site downtown or moving to a new site closer to the airport. The plan already looked at the earthquake and tsunami risks of keeping the location the same, which is just a few blocks uphill from the water but they found that there is little risk for those disasters.

As for the size of the building, there is no question that it needs to be larger. Hospital standards and codes have changed over the years including an increased need for privacy. Keeping the hospital downtown would mean absorbing the nearby space including 2nd Street, the parking lot across the street, and the Clausen Museum.

“Patient room and exam room sizes that are consistent with current thinking and current code,” Jardine said, “addressing a number of space shortages that the hospital is currently facing and generally trying to increase the efficacy of the healthcare delivery.”

Jardine presented seven basic design schemes—at one, two, and three stories. To stay in the same location, the hospital would be three stories high. Most of PMC staff managers said they were not interested in stairs and elevators.

“There was a great deal of concern about the patient areas, the long term care, and the acute care being on a different floor than the patient services like the surgery, like laboratory, imaging, and so on because a lot of the inpatients access those services and having to go up and down on the elevator is an obstacle for that,” Jardine said.

Keeping the new hospital to one floor would mean moving to a new location. That wasn’t the first choice of PMC’s CEO Phil Hofstetter. He admitted that earlier, he had hoped the facility could remain where it is– conveniently located in the heart of town for both staff and patients but listening to his staff concerns he’s not so sure anymore.

“I was a big, strong proponent of just keeping it down low but I had some second thoughts here with this presentation,” Hofstetter said.

Another major challenge with keeping the same location is transitioning the hospital while there is 24 hour health care going on.

This is one of several hospital design schemes in the master plan that feature a one-story building. A one-story building would need to be relocated from the current downtown area and different borough-owned lots are being considered. (Image courtesy of PMC)

The other option is undeveloped lots owned by the borough, which would all support a one-story design. The current lot being considered is along Haugen Drive across the street from the fire station. It’s the only lot with utility access right now. Jardine shared several different designs that could be built there.

PMC has been talking about a new medical center for years. Parts of the current hospital were built in the 1950s and an assessment done four years ago found that most of the facility was at the end of its life and should be replaced.

PMC has hired Project Manager, Devynn Johnson, to work with the architect firm through the planning process. On the air with KFSK earlier, Johnson said that her job is to help keep the details straight.

“I’m in house so I’m on PMC’s side, I work here, I live here in Petersburg,” Johnson said. ” I do all the jobs that nobody has time to do.”

That includes gathering needed information from PMC for the architect firm.

A new community hospital is still years away from construction. The master plan is being funded by a $224,000 grant from the Denali Commission but funding to actually build a hospital has yet to be identified.

The Seattle architects plan to return to Petersburg in January to present much more detailed options and to get feedback from the community.