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Hospital board talks building projects

Slides displaying plans and progress on building projects at Charleston Area Medical Center show how patient care will continue to improve, said Dale Wood, chief quality officer.

Wood, who made the presentation on Wednesday morning during the regular meeting of the CAMC Board of Trustees, discussed how the process will affect patients, visitors, parking and staff.

“It’s like a bunch of dominoes to make things happen,” he said.

While officials were already aware of the projects, Wood quickly went through a series of slides to update the board.

Construction at Memorial means losing parking spaces while large equipment is situated in the area through February of 2015. Additional staff will be on hand to guide people safely away from the construction zone. While parking near the work area will be lost for safety reasons, additional parking will be opened near the Heart and Vascular Center. Property purchased near Aladdin’s Restaurant on Chesterfield Avenue will be available for staff parking with a shuttle service provided. Construction at Memorial will be done in stages with three new levels adding 109,830 square feet of space and 48 additional patient beds, including 16 for critical care and 32 for general medical care. There will also be space for adding another 48 beds when authorization and funding make that possible.

As CAMC continues to expand and offer additional services, temporary inconveniences will be compensated in terms of better patient care, he said.

The new CAMC Cancer Center is moving along as expected.

“We are on budget and on schedule,” he said. “We plan to see patients in May.”

David Ramsey, president and chief executive officer, said he was surprised with the building progress he saw on a recent tour of the Cancer Center.

University of Charleston President Ed Welch, who heads the quality committee, said advance directives and living wills become a challenge for hospital officials when family does not agree with a patient’s wishes. However, the written decision of the patient must prevail in these instances, he said.

“We continue to work on that touchy, personal issue,” he said.

He also suggested officials take a look at when a patient needs life prolonging therapy or palliative care. For example, it could be noted whether a patient was admitted through Hospice or traditional means in order to identify more quickly what kind of care may be needed.

He also mentioned a recent “miracle case” whereby a patient was admitted with numerous gunshot wounds, went home within a month, and continues therapy on an outpatient basis.

“It’s phenomenal what CAMC can do to assist people,” he said.

Larry Hudson, CAMC chief financial officer, said finances have improved for several reasons, including Medicaid revisions.

Gail Pitchford, CAMC foundation president, presented a strategic plan for continued fundraising. Last May, the foundation exceeded its $15 million fundraising goal for the new Cancer Center.

“With the Cancer Center under construction, donors who drive by can see that the money they give changes the delivery of health care in this community,” she said. “One object of the campaign was not just to raise money but to raise awareness of the CAMC Foundation. We acquired 2,000 new donors as a result of the campaign. We’ve acquired new donors and we’ve got to keep them.”

She called upon board members to make her aware of those who have influence in the community with talents for fundraising. The foundation is continuing to build its “grateful patients program.”

Patients who thank health officials for excellent care often make donations, she said. When patients receive care there is a box to mark if they do not wish to receive information from the foundation. Otherwise, materials may be sent to them so they are aware of opportunities to donate. The foundation may have access to names and addresses for mailings while medical information remains confidential.

Pitchford also praised the generosity of employees who gave more than $500,000 toward the new Cancer Center.

Ramsey said Pitchford’s leadership has been impressive.

“We are lucky to have Gail leading the foundation,” he said. “She does a remarkable job.”

Contact writer Charlotte Ferrell Smith at or 304-348-1246.

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