For almost 90 years, Decatur County Hospital has been providing high-quality, compassionate care in a convenient location for Decatur County and the surrounding region. As we look back on the historic groundbreaking of the first Decatur County Hospital, we’re celebrating another monumental groundbreaking as we begin construction on a new DCH Outpatient Clinic, and an additional surgical suite.
In the summer of 1931, construction on the original Decatur County Hospital building began. When it officially opened on August 15, 1933, it was recognized as “one of the finest and best equipped in the middle west.” After almost 90 years, we still strive to be the finest and best health care facility each and every day.
As we serve our community today, we have changed and expanded our services to meet the growing and changing needs of our community members. The most utilized service in our facility today is the DCH Outpatient Clinic. This clinic provides convenient access to 15 specialty services, many of which were added at the direct request of our community members. Services such as neurology, rheumatology, chronic pain management, and spine surgery are not available elsewhere in our region, or other regional facilities have long wait times to get an appointment.
Many of our specialists visit on a weekly basis, which means our clinic houses multiple providers almost every day we are open. In June of 2018, we had 265 patient visits to our 10 providers. By September 2021, that number grew to 501 patient visits for our 20 providers. This significant increase in availability of providers, and patient visits, shows the desire of our community members to have specialists available close to home. This rapid growth means we have simply outgrown our current clinic space.
When asked about the need for the new clinic, Denise Elefson, Chair of the Board of Trustees, said “our job as trustees is to listen to our community, and do all we can to shape our local hospital to meet their needs. We’ve heard many people tell us that increasing the availability of specialty services should be a top priority, and that’s what we’ve managed to do over the last several years. As we’ve added services, we’ve seen tremendous growth in the use of our Outpatient Clinic, and we’ve been able to bring in services that aren’t available elsewhere in our region. It’s time to take the next step in our evolution, and create a space to house the new services that we’ve already added, and to prepare for our continued growth.”
In order to meet our number one goal of providing our region with convenient access to high quality care, we have officially broken ground on a new DCH Outpatient Clinic space. This addition increases our available clinic space from 2,211 square feet to 7,720 square feet, and includes 18 exam rooms versus our current 7.
The construction also addresses a growing need for on-site surgeries. A new 747 square feet surgical suite will be constructed to allow for more surgeries to take place close to home. With 7 specialists now providing surgeries on site at Decatur County Hospital, this second surgical suite will allow for faster access to necessary surgeries because we will be able to do simultaneous surgeries and lessen your wait time. With access to an additional surgical suite, we will be able to provide more surgeries each day, which will help save you the drive to Des Moines for routine or emergency procedures.
Due to the Board of Trustees’ conservative financial management of the hospital’s income and expenditures, there will be no impact on property taxes for our community members to finance this construction. The new building will be paid for with revenue bonds, and will not increase our property tax levy.
The new facility has been designed to fit in seamlessly with the existing building, while providing a new easily accessible entrance directly to the Outpatient Clinic. Additional parking will be added on the east side of the hospital, along with a drive up lane for easy drop off. This drive up lane will be available for both our visitors, and the Decatur County Health Care Courtesy Van. Once inside the building, visitors will enjoy a new waiting area that is much larger than our current space. The new waiting room features large windows to provide a warm welcome, a coffee bar for patients and visitors, and more privacy during the check in process.
With the decreasing availability of specialty services in rural areas across the nation, the specialists in our DCH Outpatient Clinic have never been more important. As many of our fellow community members face living with unique, chronic conditions, it is imperative that our specialists work with patients to utilize all the high-level services that Decatur County Hospital has to offer.
Mike Johnston, Decatur County Hospital CEO, said “Decatur County Hospital has experienced remarkable growth over the past few years during a time when other health care organizations in our region, and across the country, have curtailed their services or closed their doors entirely. Even through the tumult of the past year and a half, our people worked very hard to ensure that the public would be confident that DCH would be open and able to serve their health care needs. I attribute our strength to three main factors: overwhelming community support; the ongoing dedication of our physicians, providers, and employees; and our Board of Trustee’s commitment to the hospital’s mission of providing exceptional care close to home. Our new facilities will allow us to further that mission and to provide quality, convenient healthcare to our community in a modern and comfortable environment.”
With this initial groundbreaking, construction has officially started. We estimate that construction will take approximately 10-12 months, and we’re optimistic that our clinic operations will transition to the new building before the end of 2022. During construction, the existing DCH Outpatient Clinic will continue to operate as usual. Be sure to subscribe to this publication, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to stay up to date on our progress.
All of the staff, providers, and trustees look forward to continuing to serve you with compassionate care throughout this transition, and offering big city services with hometown care in our brand new facility.