Washington Regional plans $44 million expansion, completion by early 2019

by Kim Souza (ksouza@talkbusiness.net) 3,494 views 

Just one year after Washington Regional Hospital completed a $60 million, 100,000-square-feet expansion to the Fayetteville hospital, another expansion plan has been formulated.

Faster than expected growth in demand for healthcare services prompted Washington Regional to plan its “Core Renewal Project,” a $44 million expansion. The project would add 23,850 square feet of new space, which constitutes about half of the overall project.

Bill Bradley, CEO of Washington Regional, told Talk Business & Politics the $44 million project is designed to be complementary to Washington Regional’s two expansions in 2008 and 2016, which added more than 100 additional beds and support space.

“The Core Renewal Project will allow for more efficient care and more timely throughput for our patients. As with all Washington Regional projects, these have been dictated by patient demand and need. Financing for this project will be through bonds and tax-exempt equipment financing,” Bradley said.

The hospital’s financial records indicate a $21 million surplus revenue over expenditures through the first half of 2017. He said the plans are essentially complete, but they are likely to have some “fine tuning” as the project progresses.

“We expect the project to be completed in early 2019,” he added.

“Admissions over the last three years are up more than 20%. Despite that, we rarely have been on ‘whole house’ divert status during that period of time and only occasionally on service-specific divert status,” he said. “With our extraordinary growth, we have been focused – as always – on process improvements that optimize our capacity.”

The Core Renewal Project would be completed in phases with additional space added for operating rooms, the catheterization lab, and 20 additional beds in the hospital’s critical care unit. The plans also call for a robotic operating room. Hospital officials said the construction and renovations won’t impede its daily operations.

The hospital board also recently approved a $1.3 million expansion of the Women and Infants Center which will add 18 beds. Another $5.5 million was earmarked for a new administrative and education center, which is being funded with tax-free bonds.

This year marks the 15th anniversary of Washington Regional’s move into the present facility and Bradley’s 13th year at the helm. Bradley plans to retire from hospital management in September. During the past few years the hospital has received several accolades for its level of care. The hospital is the area’s only Level 2 Trauma Center. As an accredited chest pain center, the emergency department also has achieved a higher level of expertise in dealing with patients who arrive with symptoms of a heart attack. Washington Regional has been an accredited chest pain center with primary PCI – percutaneous coronary intervention, also known as angioplasty – since 2010. Last year, Washington Regional became the first hospital in Arkansas to receive full accreditation from the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care as a chest pain center with primary PCI and resuscitation. Achieving this designation places the hospital among a select group of only 30 hospitals nationwide.

Last year the hospital was recognized by the Arkansas Department of Health for excellence in stroke care, receiving an award based on the seven American Heart Association/American Stroke Association achievement measures that are benchmarked according to the standards of evidence-based stroke care guidelines to ensure stroke patients receive appropriate and timely care. The hospital was also recognized for achieving the StrokeSH Honor Roll Elite, making it the only hospital in Northwest Arkansas to be recognized at that level, according to the hospital’s annual report.