Fort Logan eyes new hospital

November 12, 2004|TODD KLEFFMAN

Beginning next week, a select group of residents in Garrard and Lincoln counties will be grilled about the need for a new hospital to serve the two counties.

The feasibility study is being conducted on behalf of Fort Logan Hospital and parent company Ephraim McDowell Health as part of an ongoing effort to determine whether the aging Stanford hospital can continue to meet the changing health care needs of the area.

"The study is to ascertain community opinion about Fort Logan and reaction to a possible new facility," said Harry Nickens, president of Ephraim McDowell Foundation, the resources arm of the Danville health care company. "This is just one piece of many that has to come together before Fort Logan and Ephraim McDowell Health can decide how to move forward."

The Indiana firm Woodburn, Kyle and Co., which specializes in surveying rural areas, will conduct extensive interviews with about 45 community representatives from Lincoln and Garrard counties. It is important to bring an "outsider" in to gauge feelings about Fort Logan and health care needs, Nickens said, to create a neutral atmosphere where respondents can express themselves freely.


Results of the survey will be turned over to Fort Logan early next year, with board members of the Stanford hospital using the information to make a recommendation to McDowell officials about whether a new hospital is viable. The parent company would consider that recommendation along with several other studies in making the final decision, probably sometime in 2005, Nickens said.

Preliminary studies suggest that a new $12 million, 47,000 square-foot facility could be built at the Stanford Medical Park at the intersection of U.S. 27 and U.S. 150. McDowell already owns that site and it would provide convenient access to Garrard residents, but Nickens said that other sites would be considered as well.

Many more patients from Garrard

One of the reasons driving the feasibility study is the dramatic increase in the use of Fort Logan by Garrard County residents since Garrard County Memorial Hospital closed last year. In 2003, the Stanford hospital had 72 in-patients and 890 outpatients from Garrard County; so far in 2004, those numbers have increased to 200 and 3,101, respectively. That's a growth rate of 178 percent in in-patient care and 248 percent in out-patient care from Garrard County residents, Nickens said.

McDowell bought Fort Logan three years ago. Major renovation of the hospital remains a possibility, Nickens said. But the facility is 40 years old and located in the middle of a residential neighborhood, two factors that limit its future viability. Changes in medical technology and the massive trend toward out-patient treatment have relegated the designs of most older hospitals ineffective, he said.

"We're into our fifth decade with the building. There may be the need to build new," Nickens said.

Leonard Smith, chairman of the Garrard County hospital board, said Garrard resident have several options for health care, depending on where they live. Residents in the northern part of the county can go to Nicholasville or Lexington, those in the eastern part to Richmond or Berea, and those in the western part to Danville.

But, as the dramatic increase of Garrard residents using Fort Logan in the past year shows, a new and improved hospital at a more convenient location in Stanford would likely draw plenty of Garrard residents, Smith said.

"I wish them well," he said. "I hope the feasibility is there."

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