Officials at Madigan Army Medical Center hope to break ground soon on a center specializing in women’s and children’s medicine, the largest expansion of the Fort Lewis hospital since 1992.
The $205 million facility would be the first of its kind in the military and one of just a few such centers that would focus on care for both women and children anywhere in the United States, the chairman of Madigan’s obstetrics and gynecology department said this week.
“The No. 1 business at (Department of Defense) hospitals is deliveries and all the care related to that,” Col. Peter Nielsen said. “So the idea of putting in what place what women need and what children need – I thought it just made sense.”
The new facility would measure about 140,000 square feet cost $205 million. It would provide an array of services, including obstetrics, women’s oncology, gynecology, breast disease, infertility, endocrinology, a neonatal intensive care unit and child psychiatry.
And by moving some services to the new building, it would create about 70,000 square feet of floor space in the main hospital, said Michael Carico, Madigan’s chief of operation and maintenance.
The new building – the largest addition to Madigan since the new hospital building opened in 1992 – is still several years away. Pentagon officials are still finalizing the 2010 fiscal year budget; included in it is a $2 million earmark U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., added to fund the planning and design.
If all goes smoothly, the construction money could be included in the Fiscal 2011 budget, and up to 40 new jobs could be created.
Typically such a facility would take about four years to build, with the design and construction each lasting about two years. But the Pentagon is accelerating that pace for medical buildings across the military, Carico said.
Nielsen, who also consults the Army Surgeon General on ob/gyn issues, submitted a white paper outlining his ideas for the center to the Pentagon about 18 months ago and found supporters within the military’s headquarters.
Madigan is a logical choice for such a center, he said; about 2,700 babies are born each year there, and the hospital also hosts the military’s only fellowships in high-risk obstetrics and developmental pediatrics.
Hospital officials expect to demand on its resources rise. The Army Western Regional Medical Command, headquartered at Madigan, is expanding from six to 20 states, which will increase the rate of referrals. Another factor is the rising number of soldiers who leave the Army but stay in the area with their families, often relying on Madigan as their primary medical care facility.
Madigan handles 981,000 outpatient visits per year, along with 6,105 emergency room visits, 14,235 surgeries, 1.5 million lab procedures and 1.5 million prescriptions filled.
Nielsen believes improvements to women’s and children’s health care will have a larger impact, given the gender dynamics in most families.
“The reality is, men go for disease and women go for preventative services for their family,” he said. “Women usually make all the health care decisions in the family, so if you provide an opportunity to enhance the health care for women and children, you are very likely to enhance the health of your soldiers and civilian patients because women encourage them to seek preventative services.”