CASS COUNTY — The Cass County Health System has a new master facility plan, completed over the last eight months, and it includes a number of key areas of the CCHS building and grounds that need to be repaired, remodeled or relocated.

“The board has been working on a master facility plan since January to identify facility needs for the next decade or so,” said Brett Altman, CCHS CEO. “A number of infrastructure issues and strategic opportunities for improving the patient experience were identified, and we recognized that we’ll save significant costs by bundling several of these small projects together. These projects are the next steps in that process to ensure we have a solid, functional facility for years to come. Some of these are necessary because of new federal regulations, and some of these are more practical repairs, for example crumbling concrete in some of our parking lots.”

Plans are still in the earliest stages, and the board expects to let bids in the summer of 2020, with hopes of having all phases of the master facility plan complete by the end of 2022.

Planned improvements include:

Remodeling the hospital pharmacy to comply with new federal regulations

Improving infrastructure items like electrical voltage regulation; repairing parking lots and driveways and replacing three air handling units.

Remodeling the clinic

Remodeling clinic space into an enhanced area for cancer care

Providing additional office space for CCHS staff

Moving the gift shop near to the main entrance

Remodeling the cafeteria serving area

Altman said a major electrical upgrade was completed in 2018 and was desperately needed. “Our next step is to address power fluctuations. We have very sensitive equipment in our lab and diagnostic imaging suites that our patients rely on to be readily available; however, these power fluctuations can damage expensive equipment or cause it to shut down. By adding voltage regulation equipment, we can better protect those pieces of equipment, like our MRI machine. In the end, it’s about protecting our investments and ensuring we’re always ready to care for patients.”

Atlantic Medical Center has been repeatedly expanded because of growth, Altman said. “We’re very blessed to have added more than 20 providers in the last two and a half years throughout CCHS. We know that we need to create a clinic environment where our family practice providers and specialists can interact and consult more freely. And, frankly, we know that the current clinic design is a maze! We have to simplify and modernize the layout of the clinic so that it’s better for our patients, too.”

In addition to updating the clinic, Altman said some current clinical space would be remodeled for cancer care.

“Cancer care is a center of excellence here at Cass County Health System. We have terrific nurses and oncologists, and unfortunately oncology is a growing need in our area. We’re starting to see patients from a much broader region here in Atlantic. We’re looking at plans now to move and expand our oncology area, which we know will impact our patients very positively,” he said.

Work on the facility plan, timeline and bidding process are expected to take place in the next six to 12 months.

“In an era where rural healthcare is increasingly unsteady, we’re incredibly blessed to be in a position where we can invest in our health system to help us achieve our mission of providing a superior experience to everyone that we are privileged to serve,” said Brett Altman, CCHS CEO. “Our board is very committed to these projects because they can envision the long-term benefits to our patients. At the same time we plan to make these improvements, we’re just as committed to moving forward without incurring debt.”