Dosher hospital’s growth plan

Jun 20, 2024 • 6 min. read | By Lynda Van Kuren

Dosher Memorial Hospital has long been committed to providing high-quality medical care to its Brunswick County community. The hospital is currently undergoing significant expansion and renovation to ensure it can continue to meet the needs of the county’s burgeoning population now and in the future.


Work is progressing on the hospital’s new emergency department building, located at the corner of East Ninth and North Howe streets, as well as the expansion of Dosher Memorial’s Oak Island clinic. The expansion of the Dosher Medical Plaza on Long Beach Road is already completed.


“These renovations are more than buildings,” said Lynda Stanley, the hospital’s president and CEO. “They represent our commitment to care for our local residents and to contributing to the health and wellbeing of our patients for years to come.”


The centerpiece of the Southport community hospital’s expansion is its new ED, which is designed to provide efficient patient care, according to Stanley. At 8,000 square feet, it is more than double the size of Dosher’s current ED and will include 14 patient bay areas, up from 10, as well as vertical chairs.


The use of vertical chairs is a relatively new practice in emergency departments.  While patients with serious injuries or illnesses are assigned a bed, those with less acute medical issues, such as a fishhook in a finger, a fever or a sprained ankle, for example, are assigned a vertical chair. Also, patients who had been assigned a bed but are in that in-between stage of recovery – they have improved but aren’t yet well enough to be discharged – may be reassigned to a vertical chair. 


These chairs, which resemble comfy reclining chairs, make the best use of space, streamline patient care and often shorten a patient’s stay in the hospital, according to hospital administrators.


“Many times, people will come in and they may not need a bed,” Stanley said. “It may be that we can meet their needs sitting in a chair – a very comfortable chair – that is well equipped. We can provide excellent care to them, but they don’t need to be in a bed.”


The new ED will also include its own X-ray, lab draw station and registration desk. It also will be outfitted with innovative technology such as teleneurology and telehealth. Robotic surgeries are an option for orthopedics patients as well.


The ED project is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2025.


The expansion of Dosher Memorial’s clinics is moving forward too. Three provider spaces have been added to the Dosher Medical Plaza clinic, and work at the Oak Island clinic, the addition of two provider spaces, is ongoing.


With these renovations, residents of all ages with all types of medical issues can more easily access medical services in this part of Brunswick County, according to Stanley. While those with serious medical problems, such as the elderly, will find the care they need at the ED, younger adults and children can visit the Dosher Memorial’s clinics for routine and less acute medical issues.


The driving force behind Dosher Memorial’s expansion is Brunswick County’s booming population growth. This past year, Brunswick County was the fastest-growing county in the state, according to Stanley. She added that projections put 65,000 new residents in the county by 2030 and that a significant portion of those residents will be older adults.


“We knew we needed to position ourselves to take care of this community as it grows,” Stanley said. “At least 65% of that population is on Medicare, and they need to be able to get the care they need close to home. We want to provide emergency and regular care, and we needed to put the infrastructure in place to meet that need.”


To achieve that goal, hospital trustees and leadership developed a seven-year master facility management plan consisting of five phases. In addition to expanding the ED and Oak Island and Dosher Medical Plaza clinics, Phase 1 of the plan also includes increasing the size of the hospital’s pharmacy and lab.


Developing the facility plan entailed a concentrated effort by a team of professionals, including hospital board members, architects, designers, and staff. That collaboration led to better solutions for the hospital’s expansion, Stanley said.


For example, the team determined that a new ED was a better solution than renovating the current ED space. Building a new ED ensured that services for ED patients would continue uninterrupted, and the new space can be built out as the community continues to grow, she said.


“This was great work by the team,” Stanley noted. “They took their time in an ongoing process. With such due diligence, we recognized additional opportunities.”


So far Dosher Memorial’s renovations are meeting targeted timelines, and staff are doing everything possible to ensure they stay on schedule, Stanley said. For example, to avoid delays due to supply chain issues, essential materials such as steel are ordered far in advance, she explained.


Though the price tag for Phase 1 of the master facility plan was set at $15.4 million, Stanley said that with inflation, the cost could creep up to $16.6 million. The project is funded by an ad valorem tax paid by Smithville Township residents.


Despite its small size (the hospital boasts 25 beds), Dosher Memorial has earned a reputation for high-quality medical care. Its accolades include a Press Ganey HX Guardian of Excellence Award, which places Dosher Memorial in the top 5% of health care providers for patient experience in surgical care in the past year; a four-star rating on the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems’ patient survey; and recognition for excellence in hip and knee orthopedic surgery and wound care.


Stanley said she regularly receives letters and other communications from grateful patients and family members about the compassionate care they receive.


“We have created a strategy around delivering world-class care in a small community hospital,” she said. “We are high tech and high touch. You can’t get any better than that.”

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