Longmont United expands facilities, humanizes health care

LONGMONT — The new 103,000-square-foot Longmont Medical Campus and the expanded Longmont United Hospital offer a new era of health care for patients that is more reminiscent of a hotel than a hospital.

Longmont United Director of Community Relations Betty Trueblood-Smith, who has been with the hospital for 25 years, says, “Our mission is to humanize, personalize, and de-mystify health care.

“Our hospital doesn’t look like, nor feel like, a hospital. We have rooms on each floor where families can visit, we have family kitchens, and we have education centers where people can learn about medical conditions,” she said. “We also have room service: Patients at our hospital aren’t awakened by someone shoving a tray at them; instead, they phone in what they would like for breakfast and what time they would like it to be delivered. All our rooms are private, and all have sleeper chairs. There are no visiting hours; visitors are welcome at any time.”

When patients arrive at the hospital, they go directly to their assigned rooms, and registrars come to them. All forms are filled out in bed, rather than at an admissions desk. Also, volunteers escort patients and visitors rather than pointing them down halls or giving directions.

“We try very hard,” said Trueblood-Smith, “to look through the eyes of a patient and see how the patient would like to have things done.”

Other unique amenities include an in-hospital clown college. To date, 26 clowns have graduated from the eight-month program, and entertain the entire patient population.

The hospital’s approach has garnered it two significant awards: AARP designated it as one of its top 15 institutions to “provide a hospital with a heart,” and it was the Health Center for Integrated Therapy’s number three choice for “healthiest hospital” because of methodologies such as reiki, massage therapy, herbal consultations and music and art therapies.

Longmont’s recent growth spurt has had a major impact on the hospital’s business. “Longmont’s demographics have switched. We have a responsibility to meet the needs of our patients. That means key things like obstetrics and pediatrics. But, at the other end, we also have to keep our commitment to providing top cancer and cardiology care,” said President and Chief Executive Officer Mitchell Carson.

The hospital’s new day-surgery and surgery centers are scheduled to open in July. The surgery center has suites that will make it possible, for the first time, for Longmont United to do open-heart surgery.

Also part of the expansion plan is “finishing-out one-half of the fifth floor. Up to this point it has been shelled-in space,” said Trueblood-Smith. “Our pediatric unit on the fourth floor has not been a dedicated unit because it couldn’t be. After the expansion, we’ll be able to have a medical-surgery free area for children. We’ll also be able to use the space currently used for day surgery to expand our ICU space from eight beds to 16 beds.”

Like Trueblood-Smith, David Demchuck, chief executive officer of Front Range Orthopedics and Front Range Orthopedic Surgery, has a long Boulder County medical community history. He was chief financial officer of Boulder Memorial Hospital and a senior vice president in charge of eight hospitals in the Porter Hospital system. He says of the Longmont Medical Campus, of which the Front Range Orthopedic organizations are the major presence, “You no longer have to go to one place to see a doctor, another for physical therapy, another to get equipment, another for rheumatoid care, another for foot/ankle problems, etc. In one place we’ll be able to serve, and provide quality health care for, the Longmont and surrounding areas.”

Demchuck believes the Longmont Medical Campus “is an organization to put patients’ needs together beautifully while offering complete accessibility.”

The 12-acre campus, located at 1551 Professional Lane at the intersection of Pike Road and Highway 287, is owned equally by developer The Neenan Group, Longmont United Hospital and Front Range Land Holdings. The campus building, which was financed through local banks, cost $21 million; the land cost $3 million.

Major tenants include Front Range Institute for Muscoskeletal Care, of which Front Range Orthopedic Clinic and Front Range Orthopedic Surgery Center are part, Physiotherapy Associates and a rehabilitation facility expected to be completed in 2003.

Each tenant-owner has an equal membership, and while each venture is individually owned, Demchuck, said they enjoy a collaborative working relationship.

Another collaborator has been Longmont city council, which Demchuck, said ?applauded the vision and has been wonderful to work with.?

Carson sums up the city’s health-care philosophy: “People are more willing now than they have ever been to tell us what they want as well as what they need. It’s our responsibility to listen to them and provide, when it’s possible to do so, what they want.”

LONGMONT — The new 103,000-square-foot Longmont Medical Campus and the expanded Longmont United Hospital offer a new era of health care for patients that is more reminiscent of a hotel than a hospital.

Longmont United Director of Community Relations Betty Trueblood-Smith, who has been with the hospital for 25 years, says, “Our mission is to humanize, personalize, and de-mystify health care.

“Our hospital doesn’t look like, nor feel like, a hospital. We have rooms on each floor where families can visit, we have family kitchens, and we have education centers where people can learn about medical conditions,” she said. “We also have room service: Patients at our hospital aren’t awakened by someone shoving a tray at them; instead, they phone in what they would like for breakfast and what time they would like it to be delivered. All our rooms are private, and all have sleeper chairs. There are no visiting hours; visitors are welcome at any time.”

When patients arrive at the hospital, they go directly to their assigned rooms, and registrars come to them. All forms are filled out in bed, rather than at an admissions desk. Also, volunteers escort patients and visitors rather than pointing them down halls or giving directions.

“We try very hard,” said Trueblood-Smith, “to look through the eyes of a patient and see how the patient would like to have things done.”

Other unique amenities include an in-hospital clown college. To date, 26 clowns have graduated from the eight-month program, and entertain the entire patient population.

The hospital’s approach…