Mercy Gilbert Medical Center completed its second expansion since opening less than three years ago, and it will eventually need a third tower to accommodate the growing population.
The second expansion includes two operating rooms and 24 medical-surgical beds on the third floor of Tower B. The hospital, on Val Vista Drive just south of Loop 202, opened in June 2006 with 88 beds and four special-care nursery beds. The newest addition brings the bed total to 206.
Twelve of the new beds will be dedicated to postpartum patients. Mercy Gilbert is a Catholic Healthcare West hospital.
"It's just part of our growth plan," said Laurie Eberst, Mercy Gilbert's president and CEO. "In the future, we've got all that empty lot behind us and we've known from the beginning that we're going to need to build in the future as well. As the population continues to grow, as we grow our services here, we'll be evaluating the approximate timing for our third tower, which could house another 300 to 400 beds."
With the second expansion, the hospital maintains an occupancy rate of 75 percent to 80 percent, she said. That allows staff to get patients into rooms quickly, she said.
"When you're much higher than that, that means patients may have to wait for someone to go home before they can get in," Eberst said.
Mercy Gilbert's emergency room now sees 150 to 160 patients daily, while the Family Birth Center has about 220 to 230 deliveries each month.
"Orthopedics is another service line where we've seen a tremendous growth since we've opened, doing probably on average eight surgeries a day," Eberst said.
The recession has affected the hospital through more uninsured patients and fewer elective surgeries, but no employees have been laid off, she said. It has had to delay further capital spending until the economy improves, she said.
"We're expecting after July to get a re-evaluation of that and can hopefully free up some funds to continue," Eberst said. "We're just being smart. We've been very, very careful about our hiring so that we don't over hire."
Last week, Mercy Gilbert learned it has been ranked at the top of the Baptist Healing Trust's list of healing hospitals and Eberst also has named the healing hospital CEO of the year. The annual ranking follows a coast-to-coast review of hospitals and CEOs by a six-member panel of national leaders in the health care industry.
"Because of my clinical background, I really understand what the patients need and how staff really need an environment where they enjoy coming to work every day," Eberst said. "I wanted to develop a culture here that really differentiates Mercy Gilbert from any other hospital. We make sure that compassion and love are provided to everybody."
In addition to its further expansion, the hospital will be surrounded in the future by various health-care related offices and operations, including the Celebration Centre for Integrated Healing, a skilled nursing facility and a rehabilitation hospital, she said.
The Celebration Centre will be a place where doctors can come together and share varying approaches to medical treatment, said Sherry Lund, Celebration founder.
"We're still working on getting the plans finalized on that and we probably won't start building on that until next year," she said. "We just wanted to create a very healing environment where people can come and actually get the health care that they deserve and want."
Center physicians also will be on staff at Mercy Gilbert so they'll have access to their hospitalized patients, Lund said.