Greensburg Hospital to Rise From Rubble
By Edie Ross - The Hutchinson News
In just a few weeks, one of Greensburg’s most recognizable community landmarks will reopen.
But the Kiowa County Memorial Hospital won’t be in the same location and it will look nothing like the 1950s-era hospital that was destroyed in the May 4, 2007, tornado.
However, it will have much of the same staff and the same values, more deeply instilled through the tragedy of the tornado and the ups and downs of rebuilding.
The new hospital, while smaller, will offer all the services it did before the tornado, with the exception of a behavioral health department, which has moved to Kinsley.
It also will boast new services such as an employee day care center and space for a third-party retail pharmacy.
Like many of Greensburg’s “landmark” buildings, the hospital has been built to LEED Platinum standards, the highest-rated certification for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.
Form and function
The hospital’s design has both form and function, allowing it to look like a piece of art and also efficiently serve the purpose of a hospital.
The hospital is built mainly of pre-cast concrete. It also includes a lot of glass, including banks of windows on the outer walls and an upper level “clear story.”
Interior rooms feature glass walls that allow sunlight to filter through to the center of the building. Because of the building’s design, sunlight can even make it into the basement.
The natural lighting makes the hospital feel more cheerful, and it has a marked effect on patients.
“The American Hospital Association did a study on patients after surgery,” hospital administrator Mary Sweet said. “Those recovering in lighted rooms needed 22 percent less pain medication than those recovering in darker rooms.”
The hospital’s 10 patient rooms are arranged on the southern wall of the hospital, each with a floor-to-ceiling window.
Cleanliness and sterilization also are important, all countertops and the floors in the trauma rooms are seamless.
But the hospital’s atmosphere is anything but sterile, with warm yellows, blues and greens incorporated in wall paint and floor designs.
The new hospital also addresses many of the challenges presented in the old facility.
“The tornado was bad, but it enabled us to do things we’ve always wanted to do,” Sweet said.
For example, before the tornado, the Kiowa County Rural Health Clinic was across the street from the hospital. Patients needing services at both facilities had to cross the street.
Now, the rural health clinic is included in the hospital. It contains five doctors’ offices and seven exam rooms, including one built to Americans with Disabilities Act standards that features a barrier-free exam table, which lowers to 18 inches.
The rural health center’s layout addresses privacy concerns by placing the nurses’ station on the opposite side of the clinic from the waiting room.
The layout of the hospital portion of the building also addresses efficiency.
The main nurses’ station sits between the emergency department and patient rooms, which allows staff to tend to both areas. In the old hospital, the two areas were on opposite sides of the building. Because only one staff attends both areas, it caused an obstacle to efficient care.
The hospital is roughly the same size as before, but it encompasses many new and exciting features, including a daycare.
Situated at the west end of the building with a bank of north windows, the day care center includes plenty of room to run and is decorated with cheerful, bright colors. And, its ceiling tiles are stamped with images of “things that fly,” like airplanes and kites.
“We have really enjoyed having the day care and have already had to apply for a license to handle more kids,” Sweet said.
“Plus, it helps with staff relations. There is something special about watching each other’s kids grow up.”
The day care also has become somewhat of a draw for new employees, Sweet said.
Before the tornado, the hospital used the services of a physical therapist who traveled across the region and was only in Greensburg twice a week; now they have a full-time PT.
Also new is a Specialty Clinic, which includes four exam rooms outfitted for various specialists who regularly visit — including a dentist, optometrist and cardiologist.
Finally, the hospital includes a space on its eastern edge that can be leased to a retail pharmacy.
The area has its own entrance, too, so pharmacy clients don’t have to walk through the hospital.
Sweet said she’s still looking for a pharmacist to rent the space.