Wednesday, September 16, 1998
When officials opened the doors at Fayette Community Hospital a year ago, they didn't really know what to expect.
"We really didn't know what the volumes could be," said Ed Mowen, executive coordinator for finance at the hospital.
"We took some wild guesses, but I think we've hit it pretty good."
During its first 11.5 months of operation, the hospital admitted 2,692 patients, averaging 3.3 days per stay. Though the facility is built to handle 100 beds, designers left room to grow and installed only 56 beds to start with.
Patient demand for those beds has fluctuated a bit, and Mowen said the hospital has been able to add beds and staff them at a moment's notice on the four or five occasions that occupancy has reached 100 percent. Generally, though, occupancy has run about 70 percent, about 35 patients per day.
"We wanted to maintain a level of about what this community needed. With opening a new hospital, we didn't want to put the financial burden on the community of opening all the beds at once," he said. "We have adjusted as needed, and it's worked out well for the first year."
Modern hospitals focus more on outpatient care than inpatient care, and Fayette Community is no exception. The hospital saw 12,049 patients for outpatient care its first year, and its emergency room handled 17,953. Of 2,133 surgeries, probably 80 percent were outpatient, Mowen said.
Fayette's penchant for sports fuels some of the demand for surgery. Mowen said about 25 to 30 percent of surgeries are orthopedic. "Some of that is seniors that have fallen hips and knees but we have some soccer and football injuries, and just kids falling and hurting themselves," he said.
General surgery accounts for 35 to 40 percent, and ophthalmology 25 to 30 percent of surgeries, he said.
The outpatient demand has picked up as time passed, Mowen added. "Over the last five months especially, our business has really picked up on the outpatient side for things like mammograms, CT scans and radiology," he said.
That's been a challenge, he added. "Our numbers continue to grow monthly, and we have to adjust the staff to compensate. For instance, in registration we set up for 40 outpatients per day, and then sometimes we get 80, and then it will jump to 100."
Hospital staff have done a good job of coping, he said, but officials continue to evaluate and make adjustments. "We get behind sometimes," he admitted.
Recent addition of a second ultrasound has helped, he said, and the hospital will begin doing mammograms on evenings to help spread the demand.
"We're trying to put the equipment in place, but sometimes it seems every time we increase it, they surprise us and want more. It's a good problem to have," he said.
As the hospital begins its second year of operation, officials continue to try to anticipate demand. Mowen said officials are expecting about a 15 percent growth in use of the ER, and about 12 percent more outpatient business.
Surgery is expected to take off, growing 30 or 40 percent, he said. "Right now we only have two operating rooms and sometimes have a hard time meeting the doctors' and patients' time schedules for surgery," he said.
The hospital's board has approved adding two more OR's and plans are to extend the hours of operation into the evening, he added.
"The demand is there, so we're getting everything in place to meet that demand," he said.
Overall, hospital officials are happy with their first year in Fayette County. "The numbers are still growing. We have to be very pleased," said Mowen.