Wednesday, September 30 was an amazing day for the communities Box Butte General Hospital (BBGH) serves. Over 300 people attended the Grand Opening ceremony for the hospital’s new patient care addition. More than 700 area residents self-toured the addition during the four hour Open House that followed the ceremony.
CEO Dan Griess, FACHE, who was the keynote speaker during the Grand Opening ceremony, commented the next day that, “The response from the community and dignitaries was simply overwhelming. Even though we have yet to cross the finish line, we are close enough to hear the crowd cheering which is evident from the outpouring of support on September 30th. Box Butte General Hospital Leadership and Staff can be most proud of the wonderful new addition. There were many who contributed significantly over the past several years in creating a design to continue our priority of making the patient experience paramount through innovative technology, convenient way finding, comfort, security and, most of all, caring and compassionate staff.”
CFO Tracy Jatczak had the honor of Emceeing the Grand Opening. She was equally amazed by the show of support from the community that day. “I was awestruck by the numbers of people that attended the open house ceremonies and tour,” she said. “The comments and reactions from the public were overwhelmingly positive. I also got the impression from the visitors that they were astounded with the sophistication of the structure and humbled by the upgraded level of care that will be available for the citizens of our region.”
Several members of the public shared their impressions as well of the new addition during the tour.
Cami Lee said, “This place is mind-blowing! The outside architecture is absolutely gorgeous and the inside is complimentary to what the outside is. The décor is great. Its very light and open, making you feel very comfortable and at home. The patient rooms are gorgeous. The OB ward is absolutely beautiful. The radiology aspect of it is really amazing as well and it’s definitely making waves for Alliance and the surrounding areas.”
Heidi Brunz said, “What stood out to me were the surgical wings. They’re so updated and perfect for the needs of the area. It’s great that this hospital is available for the community rather than having to travel to be able to seek those services. Everything inside is welcoming and great. I am looking forward to seeing what you guys do with it.”
Chelsie Herian expressed her impressions in just a few words: “Fabulous, flawless, clean. Magnificent and grand!” Kalin Krohe was nearly as brief in his praise. “This is awesomeness to the max,” he said. “It’s beautiful, very clean, and has a very creative design. Lots and lots of art. Very bright – I really like it.”
Judy Taylor, who had lived in California for 30 years, commented, “I’ve never seen a hospital this nice.
At another facility, there was no room for my family to sit down. It was uncomfortable. This (BBGH) is fabulous! Your family can be comfortable and stay with you; even eat with you, because there is a table in the room where you can have a meal together. It’s just wonderful. This is awesome.”
Doris Kuhn, when viewing the patient room that had been prepared for viewing, was impressed. “Oh my,” she said. “This patient room is just beautiful. I almost wouldn’t mind being sick enough to have to use it!”
The day started overcast and cool, but just as people started to gather for the Open Ceremony the sun came out to make it perfect weather for the outside program. The standing room only crowd watched as the American Legion Post #7 color guard raised Old Glory, the Nebraska state flag and the BBGH Corporate flag for the first time, followed by Brayla Alwin singing the national anthem.
Throughout her introductions of speakers for the event, Ms. Jatczak , always the number person, provided interesting statistics about the new addition throughout the program. Starting from the gound up, she reported that: 22,000 cubic yards of soil was excavated to build the basement; 340 tons of structural steel was erected for the building’s skeleton; There are 1 ¼ miles of underground plumbing in the building’s footprint; It took 350,000 bricks and a quarter million square feet of sheet rock to build thee walls; There are 35 miles of electrical conduit within the walls; 108 miles of copper wire was pulled through the conduit in these walls. There are over 1,800 light fixtures in this new building; Our house of many doors now has 400 additional doors; The telephones, TVs and computers will be powered by over 30 miles of low voltage wiring; and finally, over 600 men and women have worked on the project throughout its two year duration.
The first speaker was BBGH Board of Trustees President David Briggs, CEO of WESTCO. Mr. Briggs, a board member for 13 years, began by presenting a plaque to former Trustee Larry Ring, who last month retired from the board after eight years as a member. After recognizing current and former Trustees for their vision over the 39 year history of BBGH, he went on to say, “As the baby boomer generation continues to age, this facility will become increasingly important as more of our citizens will need more health care. Having it close to home is a huge benefit to each of us and our families.”
Next to speak was Maxine Moul, Nebraska State Director USDA – Rural Development. “What a glorious fall day we have,” Ms. Moul began, “What a glorious day to celebrate life and health and the commitment of this community to the long term health of each and everyone one of us in Alliance, Box Butte County and the communities that are served by the hospital.”
She told the crowd that the new addition was made possible “through the contribution of federal tax dollars from the public. You’re contribution resulting in a program that allowed the USDA to provide a $28.7 million dollar loan to BBGH. That investment, along with $11 million leveraged through other sources, made this beautiful addition possible.” After saying she looked forward to being back for the completion of the project in 2016, Ms. Moul presented a plaque to Mr. Griess in recognition of the expansion.
Ms. Jatczak introduced Mr. Griess with a comment praising him as a “Panhandle native with worldly views. An ordinary man with an extraordinary vision.” Mr. Griess underlined the hospital’s adopted tag line of “The Past. The Present. The Possibilities” throughout his keynote speech. A few of his comments follow.
BBGH celebrated its 39th anniversary October 1st. “On October 1, 1976 we received our first patient,” he recounted. “As CEO, I appreciate the vision and strategy of past CEOs, knowing several chapters of our book had been written before I was given the privilege to write new chapters in late 2003. Of course, BBGH replaced St. Joseph’s Hospital, a 133-bed regional medical center owned and operated by the Sisters of St. Francis, which began to serve this region in the 1920s. “ To honor that memory, Mr. Griess asked people who worked at that facility to stand and be recognized, with several doing so. When he then asked that people who were born or had been a patient of St. Joseph prior to its closing, almost half the crowed stood.
Mr. Griess said, “Just two years ago on October 1, 2013 we gathered near this same spot to break ground on a 93,000 sq. ft. two-story addition with a price tag just north of $40 million. Nearly every utility known to man had to be relocated. Therefore, we had a giant hole in the ground for several months; long enough to where I was pretty sick and tired of answering questions related to just “the hole.” As ‘the hole’ began to take shape with the outline of our 17,000 sq. ft. basement, the conversations and interest began to change.”
He recounted how the decision to build the new addition being dedicated that day was reached, going from a vision of just replacing the antiquated Patient Care Unit put in place in 1976 to realizing the needs of the hospital in its quest to provide the best in health care to the public demanded much more than that. “Much of the equipment supporting the building’s heating and ventilation is also 39 years old,” Mr. Griess recounted. “Very inefficient steam technology was unable to meet our needs in several areas of the hospital, especially in the fall and spring when outside temperatures can swing 50 degrees or more in a single day. Also, in 1976 Medical Imaging technologies of CT, MRI, Bone Densitometry, etc. did not exist, or at least were not readily available in rural areas. As new modalities arrived at BBGH, we needed to make room. These technologies are spread throughout the entire campus leading to the difficulty in way finding and staffing. New surgery specialties have placed great demands on the current capabilities of our existing space. Operating Rooms are too small, not enough storage for all of the new equipment and supplies, heat as a result of new lighting technology making operating rooms too warm, and the list went on and on. Don’t even get me started on the size of our current Inpatient rooms with shared bathrooms.”
Mr. Griess pointed out, “What is not new at BBGH is our belief ‘It is all about the Patient,’ as we strive to create a wonderful patient experience for every patient, every time. The addition is approximately 99% complete. In the next few weeks, we will be addressing the final items needing to be completed before BCI turns over the building to BBGH. Our new digital x-ray unit will be installed and will have calibrations completed. In the new surgical suites, we will be finishing the installation of new integration technology. Punch list items will need to be identified and addressed before our staff performs what is referred to as a ‘terminal clean.’ Clinical staff will be orienting to the new equipment and technology in preparation for our move. We don’t have a firm date yet but we will keep you posted.”
He said the next areas the project will address includes remodeling the current Multispecialty Clinic and Emergency Department space into a bigger Multispecialty Clinic, remodeling the old PCU for staff office space, and finally the expansion of The Rehab and Wellness Center. He stressed that a project of this size doesn’t happen without a great hospital staff, construction crews, engineers all working together. Using a sports theme, he gave a literal shout out to individuals involved in building the facility over the past two years.
Mr. Griess ended his speech by saying, “The mission of BBGH is to lead and innovate in healthcare delivery and community wellness. This addition will become another arrow in our quiver of resources to support our staff in their efforts to better serve our patients. I am proud to lead such a caring and compassionate staff that is committed to the care and treatment of our patients and in serving this community.”
The ceremony ended with the traditional Ribbon Cutting at the main entrance of the new addition, hosted by the Alliance Chamber of Commerce, followed by a Blessing of the Chapel hosted by The Ministerial Association and led by Father Coke McClure.
The public will continue to receive updates on the hospital’s current project, including the official opening date announcing when patients will be able to start using the new facility.
Box Butte General Hospital is an equal opportunity provider and employer.