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Hickory, NC Healthcare Expansion Moves Forward

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The largest expansion of Catawba Valley Medical Center will move forward next month after loan funding was approved for the project.

The hospital announced last year plans to expand operating rooms and add amenities to labor and delivery rooms, such as a big tub for expectant mothers to submerge in, among many other improvements. Once complete, the expansion will add 95,000 square feet to the hospital with the addition of a three-story patient tower, where CVMC plans to relocate existing impatient services.

Financial market conditions delayed the $70 million three-year project, which the hospital initially hoped to begin construction on in January.

“It’s taken us this long to get the financing,” said CVMC President Tony Rose.

He said the hospital administration decided to break the project into phases to make the funding more manageable.

“The scope of the project hasn’t changed from a year ago,” he said.

Now they have the means to get started. The Catawba County Board of Commissioners approved the use of a new loan opportunity Monday night. CVMC will use Build America Bonds offered through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to fund the first $25 million phase.

The bonds will allow the hospital to put $16.25 million in Build America Bonds, which gives CVMC a more favorable interest rate. Rose said the federal government will rebate 35 percent of the interest expense, which lowers the overall interest rate. Another $8.75 million will be placed in Economic Zone Recovery Bonds, which will grant the hospital a 45 percent rebate on interest.

Rose said the first phase will add three new operating rooms and renovate the existing 12. The current operating rooms range in size from 350 to 500 square feet, which leave little room for new medical technology that requires larger equipment. Rose said some of the rooms will be combined to form larger operating rooms. When the surgical expansion is finished, he said there will be 12 operating rooms each measuring 600 square feet or more, noting that the total number of rooms will not change.

“The big thing out of Phase One is modernizing the surgical pavilion so we’re not limited in productivity, because all rooms will be the same,” said Rose.

The first phase will also include the addition of new infrastructure, including enhancing cooling and emergency power capacities. Meanwhile, CVMC will be changing traffic patterns and adding parking at the back of the hospital, Rose said.

After the first phase is finished, CVMC will add a four-story patient tower, including 16 medical-surgical beds, 16 oncology beds and 18 labor and delivery suites.

“This will give them a new home,” Rose said.

The special care nursery would be increased in size to 7,126 square feet to allow space for new technology, like the Giraffe care units. The Level III nursery is used to treat infants for conditions like jaundice and complications from premature birth.  The additions would also add private patient rooms for children.

The medical outpatient facility in oncology, where the hospital conducts infusion, radiation and chemotherapy treatments would also expand from 900 to 7,400 square feet.

In the end, Rose said the hospital will eliminate most of its semi-private or shared rooms and replace them with private rooms.

CVMC will begin work on the project in mid-August, pending final approval from the N.C. Local Government Commission.