Fletcher Allen Seeks Approval to Plan for New Inpatient Building and for New Maternity Unit

May 15, 2013

Mike Noble
Marketing and Communications

BURLINGTON, VT – Fletcher Allen Health Care filed two Certificate of Need (CON) applications today with the Green Mountain Care Board (GMCB). 

Conceptual CON
The first CON application, known as a Conceptual Development Phase Certificate of Need application, will seek approval to spend up to $3.7 million on detailed planning and design work for a new inpatient building. Significant planning will be required to develop the project, which is likely to require construction of a multi-story building on a site adjacent to the existing Emergency Department located on the west side of the Medical Center Campus. The structure could house up to four inpatient floors and up to 128 single-bed patient rooms. The size, design, cost, scope and dimensions of this facility have not been determined.

Planning will include consultation with architects, and other experts in areas such as civil engineering, equipment planning, and many other fields that are required as part of preparing the CON application. This work is expected to take at least nine months and will begin if and when we receive regulatory approval of the Conceptual CON application.

The construction project, itself, would be the subject of a separate CON application, once the planning work is completed.  The construction project is intended to replace the most outdated inpatient facilities on the Medical Center Campus. Planning and design work is needed to assure that the new facilities will be consistent with contemporary hospital standards and the demands of health reform, which call for high-quality, closely coordinated, cost-effective care.

The Need for New Facilities
While Fletcher Allen’s outpatient facilities have been improved with a major project completed in 2005, there has been no new inpatient facility construction for decades, apart from the Birthing Center completed in 2004 and the inpatient mental health units completed in 2005. Fletcher Allen’s existing inpatient units are located in four buildings that were constructed between 1941 and 1985.

The current inpatient buildings have major structural limitations: floor-to-floor dimensions do not allow installation of modern mechanical, electrical and information systems required to support contemporary inpatient medical-surgical beds, making further upgrades to meet current standards impossible.

Most of the patient rooms were designed for double-occupancy. Their size is often inadequate for today’s diagnostic and treatment equipment. This can result in a patient needing to be transported to other locations in the hospital for care rather than having the appropriate equipment brought to the room.

Further, when it is necessary to isolate a patient, or provide gender-specific accommodations, one of the beds in a double room must often be taken out of service. This makes patient placement and overall hospital census management difficult and inefficient.

One objective of the planning for the new inpatient bed replacement building will be to increase the number of inpatient single-occupancy rooms, now the accepted standard for inpatient care.  With appropriate planning and design, the rooms should provide adequate space for medical equipment and improve quality of care by preventing infection.  Single-occupancy rooms would also help improve the health and wellbeing of our patients and provide greater privacy and confidentiality to patients and their families, who are a crucial part of the patient’s care team.

Mother and Baby Unit
The second CON seeks approval to replace Fletcher Allen’s existing Mother and Baby Unit, now located on Shepardson 5, in renovated space on Baird 7. As part of the project, the General Clinical Research Center now located on Baird 7 will be moved to another location on the campus.  The project is expected to cost $15.8 million.  It will provide patients with an up-to-date unit that conforms to contemporary health care guidelines by increasing space for mothers and families, by placing the new Mother and Baby Unit closer to the birthing center and by significantly reducing the number of double-occupancy rooms in today’s 50-70 year-old unit.

The new Mother-Baby Unit will feature 28 patient beds in 25 patient rooms, plus an additional three “boarder” rooms for discharged mothers whose babies remain inpatients.  To accommodate the needs of patients and their family members, the size of the Mother-Baby Unit will increase from 12,281 square feet to 14,724 square feet. The larger space and increased single-occupancy rooms will also reduce noise levels and improve the quality of the mother-baby experience and post-partum care. If the CON is approved, construction would take approximately 18 months.

Both CONs reflect Fletcher Allen’s ongoing effort to provide patients and families with the highest quality health care with facilities that are patient-centered and promote a healing environment.