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Alaska Hospitals Expand To Keep Pace With Growth

Mon, 01/30/2012 - 5:21am

(AP) — A growing population has created a boom in Alaska hospital construction.

Providence Health and Services is renovating and expanding a facility in Anchorage, upgrading the maternity ward, operating rooms and other sections. The Chief Andrew Isaac Health Center in Fairbanks is replacing its hospital with a new 150,000-square-foot building. And a number of other projects are planned or already in the works around the state.

Hospital administrators say they're trying to modernize and keep up with expected demand. Providence's $150 million upgrades in Anchorage are the hospital's biggest investment since the early 1990s. They began last year and are expected to be completed in phases through 2014. "This set of projects we have under way now are financially more money and bigger in scope," Dr. Richard Mandsager, chief executive of Providence Medical Center, told the Daily Journal of Commerce.

Providence is expanding or renovating its newborn intensive care, labor and delivery, post-partum and pre-natal units. The upgrades will create private rooms and more space for families. The hospital also is renovating nine operating rooms so they can accommodate modern technology and also building a new cardiovascular surgery room that is expected to be ready for use next month.

Separately, extended care facilities for long-term patients will be replaced with room for 96 residents who will have private bedrooms and bathrooms with common spaces for leisure, cooking and physical therapy. The project is expected to cost $63 million.

In Fairbanks, construction crews are about 85 percent done with a replacement hospital that is scheduled to open in December. The new building will have 18 inpatient beds along with outpatient care from a variety of specialties. "The old one is severely outdated," said Nick Francis, a senior project manager. "It's too small to service the community. It should have been replaced years ago."

A hospital in Wrangell is hoping to break ground this summer on an expansion project that would create space for a CT scanner and six more long-term care beds. Administrators have most of the funding lined up for the $30 million project, said Mari Selle-Rea, development and quality director. Some of the other hospital projects this year include a $1.47 million expansion for Petersburg Medical Center's clinic and a replacement hospital for Samuel Simmonds Memorial Hospital in Barrow.

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