Mountain Laurel Medical Center Expanding to Enhance Patient Care

Last Updated on Feb 8, 2018 at 1:28pm | Health & Social

Article courtesy of NCWV Media - The Republican. Staff Writer: Renee Shreve. Photo Credit: Renee Shreve.
Mountain Laurel Medical Center’s administrative personnel, medical team and support staff are set to enhance the services they provide to area residents.
“It’s an exciting time,” Sandra Moore, chief operating officer, said about the non-profit’s renovation and expansion projects.
Located along Memorial Drive, Oakland, Mountain Laurel’s main facility opened in 2006. It includes a pharmacy, clinical laboratory and transportation service. A 2,500-square-foot satellite facility opened a few years ago in Grantsville. Another office is in the works for McCoole.
Renovations to the existing 16,000-square-foot Oakland facility began in April and were completed the last week of December.
“We increased the area for our nurses’ station,” Moore said. “That way you have the provider, medical assistant and nurse in the same area in which the patient is being treated.”
A 13th exam room was added, and the other 12 rooms were revamped. New amenities include iPads to entertain nervous youngsters and to provide information for older patients.
“In addition to improving the clinical space, we also worked really hard to increase access,” said Charles Wilt, chief executive officer. “We call the front-desk area the patient-access area.”
The lobby’s check-in window is now twice as big as it was before, he noted.
“We can now serve many more people, all at the same time,” Wilt said. “You don’t have to stand in line.”
A medical assistant was added to the front-end staff, and a private space was constructed on the left side of the desk.
“If someone needs to have a private conversation with the front check-in, we can bring them around” to the private area, Wilt said. “The assistant can do consultations. They can talk about medications so that you don’t have to then go into a back room.”
The front-desk staff plays a “huge” role in what happens back in the exam rooms, he said. The information gathered at the desk is relayed to a medical assistant then on to a nurse, doctor, and, if needed, a social worker, behavioral health consultant, or care coordinator, who can set up transportation, financial, or other assistance.
“A patient may end up seeing five people before they leave here,” Wilt said about the center’s patient-centered approach to care. “That’s all in the same room, because there’s a lot of stigma around behavioral health.”
Moore indicated the renovations have enhanced that “team approach” to care. In addition, patients have quicker, easier access to care providers and services.
“It’s actually worked out really, really well,” she said.
The renovation project also included a new education room where the center’s care coordinators can have follow-up consultations with patients, including those recently discharged from a hospital.
“That’s where they have education sessions with our patients for, specifically, diabetic self-management,” Moore said, noting the center has a certified program.
One-on-one consultations and group-learning sessions are held in the classroom-type room.
Now that the renovation work is completed, the Oakland center’s expansion project will begin. A two-story, 4,700-square-foot addition will be built on the right-hand side of the current building. This will house five additional exam rooms, a behavorial therapy room, and another clinical lab.
Wilt indicated the additional exam rooms are much needed.
“We’re kind of busting at the seams in the current building,” he said. “We have a lot of patients who we would like to get in sooner.”
The expansion project will also include a new conference room, which will take up the entire second floor of the new addition. The current room is not nearly large enough for the center’s staff members to gather and discuss patient care, according to Wilt.
“It was OK when we had 20 employees,” he said about the current room. “But this week, we officially reached 65 employees.”
The new 2,200-square-foot conference room will include an education area and a kitchenette, where cooking classes can be held.
“Currently, we’re renting other spaces and spending money to rent,” Wilt said. “We’ll be able to do them right here on-site and have all of our tools available here for our diabetic cooking classes.”
A new employee parking lot will also be constructed behind the current building, freeing up additional parking spots for Mountain Laurel patients.
The CEO anticipates the new building will be completed by the end of this year. During last year’s General Assembly session, legislators approved a $356,000 capital bond for the addition.
With the support of the Garrett County commissioners, Sen. George Edwards, and Del. Wendell Beitzel, Wilt plans to apply for another capital bond for the McCoole project. He is also seeking grant funding to equip and outfit the new facility.
The 8,000-square-foot office will be located in an old car dealership building. After renovations, it will look similar to the Oakland and Grantsville centers, which feature stones, bricks, and cedar siding. An architect has been chosen for the project, and a contractor will be hired soon, according to Wilt.
“We hope to have that finished by the end of the year,” he said. “We hope to duplicate all of the services we have here (Oakland), just on a smaller scale.”
The need for a Mountain Laurel office in Allegany County became apparent after a survey was conducted.
“Every three years we conduct a community-needs assessment,” the CEO said. “We’ve identified a great need for primary care and behavioral health in that area (McCoole). We’ve even started transporting patients from that area to our Grantsville location and here to Oakland. So by having a location in that area, we won’t be transporting people so far.”
Revenue from the Mountain Laurel Community Pharmacy, which is open to everyone, helps cover the cost of transportation and other programs.
“It’s such a good feeling to see that we can put our mission in to plan in another area,” Moore said about the McCoole center.
Mountain Laurel’s mission is to “provide quality, safe, accessible primary health care, wellness promotion, and education to all individuals in Garrett and surrounding areas, regardless of the patient’s ability to pay.”
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