Conway Regional Health System has announced its plans to launch the $40 million first phase of its 10- to 20-year strategic campus plan.
CEO and President Matt Troup said the Conway Regional board approved the bond issue to fund the first phase — the Conway City Council also approved the issuance of the bonds in its November meeting but will not be liable for any debt — which includes a new medical office building, new critical care unit, lab and pharmacy and the Greenbrier clinic expansion.
He said the new three-story building will house Conway’s two largest obstetrics/gynecology practices and is set to be located on the northeast end of the hospital campus with a enclosed walkway being considered that would connect the building with the rest.
“We’re still looking through what the first floor will house but we anticipate a specialty therapy service as well as some lab functions,” Troup said.
For the expanded critical care unit (CCU) he said, a whole new floor would be constructed over the OR to house the unit, the lab and the pharmacy.
Troup said Conway Regional's current CCU unit is around 20 years old and has 17 beds — 12 for intensive care and five for cardiovascular care.
“A new unit will just greatly enable our ability to keep more patients here in Conway and [make] sure we have the latest technology and care we can provide,” he said. “Frequently, we’re using all available beds for all critical care needs and so a new unit will greatly enable our ability to flex when we need to.”
The new unit will have 24 beds with the ability to add more if needed.
As for the Greenbrier clinic, Troup said the city's growth is what’s driving the project.
“Our vision is really to create a medical destination that’s on scale with that community,” Troup said. “We’ve been there a long time, and I think this just helps to solidify what we’re doing. That practice, that clinic, is a very successful clinic in the community.”
He said Conway Regional wants to continue to support that and grow with the community’s increasing numbers.
Troup said the plan essentially calls for replacing what’s already there to be able to expand to house more physicians and also include an area where specialists can provide physical therapy in the same location.
In addition, he said, the administration is contemplating putting in a small fitness center.
Overall, Troup said, he expects the first phase to be completed over the next three years.
“You’ll start to see the impact here in Conway, or really on our campus, probably mid-January,” he said.
With the medical office going in, a lot of parking will be displaced so Troup said the first step is to add more. When that’s completed, which he anticipates to be around April, construction on the new building will start, then the critical care unit next.
“There’s a lot of prep work and design work that has to take place before construction starts, so I anticipate probably third or fourth quarter of 2019 [that project] should begin,” Troup said.
As for phases two and three, the CEO said that timeline depends greatly on the hospital’s success and growth, but that he hopes they are able to go immediately from one phase to the next.
For phase two, Troup said, the hospital has a lot of infrastructure ideas which include cleaning up the east entrance to improve patient flow and visual appeal. In addition, with the new building set to house the women units, those previous offices will be opened up.
Also included in phase two is the relocation of the loading dock, which currently sits on College Avenue, a “real pain,” to the west side of the campus, he said.
Troup said that a couple years ago he Googled the hospital and the picture that came up was of that dock.
“Not the image that you want to have out there,” he said, laughing.
Phase three of the plan includes projects to open the campus up more to make the area more visitor friendly and easier to find with more visual appeal. Administrators are looking at creating a boulevard through the campus to connect Robinson with College avenues.
All of those ideas, Troup said, are years away. While they are things that need to get done, Conway Regional's No. 1 priority is to expand the clinical base so it can make sure to take care of patients first. The other needed projects will come later, Troup said, and added that he hopes the benefit of getting the first part done and the success it will likely bring, might expedite the next phases.
“What makes this so exciting is we are growing in a way that is really additive to the community,” he said.
Troup said Conway Regional is not only adding more services for the community but also complex, new parts that don’t currently exist in Conway.
“Rather than growing by adding duplicative services, we’re growing by adding [new] services,” he said.
Troup said that three years ago, Conway Regional was facing another hospital coming to town and there was a lot of concern how it would impact Conway Regional. He said sitting here today, knowing the hospital’s revenue growth and the support behind the expansion is an “incredible story to tell,” because not every hospital is making the same kind of investment into the community, despite the competition and the place they were three years ago.
Not only has employee feedback been great — Troup said the staff seems to loves working at a hospital that has a growth mindset — but that the community overall has been supportive of the project.
“I think it really sends, hopefully, a strong message to the community as well as our physicians that we have a very bright future and there are a lot of positive things going on at Conway Regional and we’re just continuing to tell a great story,” he said.
Troup said the hospital also have a community meeting set for Jan. 14, 2019.
“This is currently something we are trying to do to make sure we are being a good neighbor more than anything else,” he said.
Conway-based Nabholz Construction is the contractor for the project. Cromwell Architects Engineers is designing the project.