Updates are aimed at addressing continuing shifts in healthcare needs across the region
Littleton, NH – At their annual meeting on January 27, 2020, Littleton Regional Healthcare (LRH) unveiled plans to ensure that they were positioned to meet the healthcare needs of the community going forward through strategic investments in the facility that focus on the LRH mission. The investments, which were determined through strategic planning work that occurred in 2019, focus on addressing services in the emergency and medical/surgical departments where the need is outpacing resources and staying ahead of projected needs for medical care required across the region.
“While we believe our facility has stood the test of time, changes in medical care and patient needs, privacy requirements associated with HIPAA and technological advances require us to regularly review facility needs. We were excited to announce the outcome of this work to our staff, volunteers and the greater Littleton community at our 2020 annual meeting,” said LRH president and CEO Robert Nutter.
The investments focus on expanding and renovating the Emergency Department and medical/surgical units at LRH and adding 66 new parking spaces to accommodate projected growth. The work will be done in three phases to ensure that there is no disruption to current services. The expansion of the parking lot has commenced and is scheduled to be completed by the summer of 2020. The work associated with the Emergency Department and medical/surgical units is currently in the design and permitting phase, with construction planned for the fall and winter of 2020 and completion in mid-2021.
Under the plan, the Emergency Department, which treats more than 11,000 patients annually, will see the following updates and additions:
- Four rooms dedicated to treat trauma patients
- An increase of beds from 10 to 16
- Four beds that can accommodate patients presenting with mental health crises
- Increased privacy for patients
- A dedicated room for patients of size
The medical/surgical unit, which had nearly 2,000 inpatient admissions in 2019, will see the following updates and additions that will result in flexibility between observation, inpatient, maternity and critical care:
- Creating 100% private patient rooms and six private critical decision/observation rooms
- Converting current double rooms to single rooms and adding eight new single rooms
- Renovating the current hospice room and patient of size room
- New rehabilitation space
- Creating a nursing care area
“Because of the projected growth and changing demographics in Littleton, the region’s aging population, the increase in patient acuity, and the fact that LRH can provide more complex services to the community, there is a projected need to increase bed capacity. We also plan to address privacy concerns by creating more private rooms, increase the number of treatment rooms to meet demands and create a more suitable space to accommodate the safe and extended holding of behavioral health patients. We are making these cost-effective improvements that will increase efficiencies and better prepare us for future needs. These capital improvements are necessary investments to ensure that LRH can provide the best care possible for the community we serve,” said Roger Gingue, chair of the LRH Board of Trustees.
These investments and enhancements became top priorities through the development of a strategic plan in 2019. LRH partnered with Halsa Advisors to conduct an environmental assessment that included analyzing market and internal data, interviewing LRH leadership and physicians and developing strategic hypotheses. This work helped determine future strategic directions and the recommendations of key needs to meet the projected demands for healthcare that exist today and into the future. Several key factors were evaluated, including demographics, service area needs, supporting an aging population, creating lower cost options for patients in need of key services, addressing behavioral health needs and establishing key partnerships with organizations such as Dartmouth-Hitchcock to provide more intensive care resources and telemedicine capabilities.
The new LRH emergency and medical/surgical departments will complement the many other significant investments LRH has made over the last two years, including opening North Country Pharmacy, adding a new Alpine office in North Conway and the Pain Management Center in Littleton, and the recently opened Littleton Urgent Care. LRH now offers a wide range of tele-health services including Intensive Care Nursery, Intensive Care Unit, Psychology, Neurology, Rheumatology, and coming soon will offer Tele-Virtualist services for inpatients to address Infectious Disease, Gastroenterology, Pulmonology and Cardiology services. Tele-health services are designed to save patients from traveling long distances to a tertiary care facility. It allows patients to be seen in a virtual setting close to home.
“As the largest and most comprehensive medical facility in the region and the area’s only Critical Access Hospital, we need to be continually forward-thinking. While we believe our facilities and team are second to none in the region and beyond, much has changed since this facility was constructed 20 years ago. Once these projects are complete, we’ll be well-positioned to continue to effectively fill our mission of providing quality, compassionate and accessible healthcare in a manner that brings value to all,” Nutter said.
The annual meeting also served as an opportunity to recognize volunteers and donors and highlight the many ways LRH gives back to the community. In 2019, this included committing over $1m in charity care alone for individuals who were unable to pay for healthcare services. The meeting also serves as an opportunity to provide other updates on LRH to the community. These included ongoing work with the Town of Littleton to improve ambulance resources and services and an update on the in-house urgent care center, which has served 2,600 patients since it opened in July, including 220 uninsured patients. LRH leadership also provided an update on the 2019 fiscal year and the projected budget for 2020.