Torrington hospital thinking long-term with renovations

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Rhett Breedlove/Torrington Telegram Banner Health Facility Operations Manager, Robert Shade (left), along with colleague and Project Manager for Development of Construction, Brad McCaslin, stand before an ambitious yet very sensible construction project in development. For safety and dynamic purposes, Banner Health has chosen to expand and replace certain aspects of Torrington Community Hospital’s south parking lot to provide easier traffic and pedestrian flow, along with more room for future building projects.

‘We have to be investing in the facilities to promote safety and privacy’

TORRINGTON – Torrington Community Hospital has stayed both busy, and ambitious for the last several years by not only working fearlessly through a devastating pandemic, but also providing motivated and necessary construction renovations to the facilities.

After having just finished prior renovation projects concerning the west side of the hospital, Banner Healthy Facility Operations Manager, Robert Shade, and Project Manager for Development of Construction, Brad McCaslin, are just getting started in terms of thinking long into the future for the betterment of not only the hospital facilities, but for the comfort and safety of the community.

With that, both Banner Health leaders have invested in a 30-million-dollar renovation project to make vast improvement and changes to the facility’s south parking lot.

“We had planned on extending both ends of the building, but we ended up being able to remodel this entire administration lobby area of the building within the current footprint,” McCaslin explained. “So we didn’t spend as much, which gave us some extra money to do some improvement on the outside. Originally we planned on changing the drop off loop, and so it was always in the scope of the project. However we changed our overall approach, and decided to go ahead and replace this parking lot which was in dire need of auxiliary.”

“This has really been in the works for three or four years now,” Shade added. “It was just a matter of getting the funding and being able to move forward on it by 24,000 square feet. It also straightens out the flow, so we are not jammed up so much.”

When discussing why now and where the idea came about, both project administrators were adamantly convincing that comfort and safety is always a top priority both for patients as well as all in the community.

Not only this but should the project be finished by its April goal, the south lot will go from being able to hold 78 cars to 130. That being said, both Banner Health colleagues feel that the project will pay off greatly when completion comes into play, especially when looking out for ill, injured or elderly patients during wintertime.

“It’s going to improve safety, and will reduce the amount of maintenance,” McCaslin said. “Going from the asphalt to concrete is a massive improvement not just from a maintenance perspective, but we will have much better pedestrian routing. I think the original parking lot was set to connect to College Drive which never got built, and so the layout of it was a little sub-optimal. This straightens out the flow, so we are not so zinged up. We designed it to allow accommodation for a future clinic on site, which will basically be a doctor’s office. We are not sure yet of how many rooms there will be as we haven’t been funded for that yet, but it’s something that is in the Master Campus Plan. As far as that plan, we’ve really completed most of what we had intended to do. We did a plan about ten years ago, and the remaining scope of that plan would be the patient wing. So eventually we are going to replace the patient wing, and renovate the Medical Office Building.”

“It’s all about safety,” Shade noted. “Once we got the funding, the engineering side delayed the project by about four months. When we broke ground, we were in the fall. We worked a lot with rerouting patients, employees and getting all those notifications out. Now the parking lot can be separated from the actual flow of the traffic so that people aren’t just stepping out into it like they used to at the older parking lot. It’s got islands in there separating it for safety, and two raised crosswalks that actually double as speed bumps.”

Thus far the project has been running quite smoothly while being in the first phase of construction. Just like any motivated project however, certain challenges or setbacks are bound to occur.

According to the Project Manager McCaslin the challenge never lies within the work or preparation itself, but a much different aspect that always comes into play.

“The initial challenge was of course getting the funding,” McCaslin said. “We had some funding in the original project, and we had to get what we call renewal funds. These are set aside basically for replacing things in the hospital to keep everything relatively new, and to avoid breakdowns and that sort of thing. The phasing of the project was definitely a challenge. This is a thoroughfare to the Care Center, and so we had to shut that access off. It’s on now, but it’s more of a challenge because we don’t have the full thoroughfare in yet. We had lots of ideas of where the clinic could go, so we bounced around on the design side. The emergency department access had to be rerouted, but once the public gets used to something going on up here it improves a little bit. We learned we needed to add traffic control along with some of the signage, along with other things that we’ve implemented on the first couple of phases. So now it works a lot smoother.”

Just prior to returning to surely a busy day of managing ongoing hospital developments, both men noted that despite temporary inconveniences that such ventures may cause for hospital patrons, the long-term advantages during future icy cold winters will help tremendously.

“We have to be investing in the facilities to promote safety and privacy,” McCaslin concluded. “That really becomes the driving force for a lot of projects, especially when it comes to patient privacy.”

Shade would swiftly add, “Banner is here to support this community by investing crucial funding into it.”

If you have more questions or would like further information regarding Torrington Community Hospital, feel free to call 307-532-4181.


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