Meadville Tribune

July 10, 2009

VIDEO: MMC Grove St. gets ready to open new digs

MMC opens new facility from The Meadville Tribune on Vimeo.

If you were an insurance company, would you rather pay for a patient spending three or four days in the hospital — or three or four hours?

With Monday’s opening of Surgery Center at Grove, Meadville Medical

Center is taking a giant, brightly-colored step into a future where the bottom line is calculated in hours instead of days and an ever-increasing number of surgical procedures is being performed on an outpatient basis.

“Funding was the biggest impetus to go toward outpatient surgery,” Sharon Tolbert, manager of the center, said as Meadville Medical Center staff toured the new facility before it opens its doors to patients for the first time on Monday. “The health care industry sort of started that whole trend.”

It isn’t just about money, Tolbert, who’s also a registered nurse, was

quick to add. “Drugs have also improved, so you can give someone an anesthetic and have them awake, respond and recover — to be able to go home. At one time, that wasn’t as possible as it is now.” Ditto for surgical techniques

Beverly Kantz, manager of

the center’s postoperative section, agreed. Thirty years ago, for example, a cataract patient

would spend five to seven days in the hospital — with sandbags immobilizing the patient’s head while healing took place. “Now, it’s stop, get it done and go — in two hours,” she said.

Plans for the $10-million, 17,500-square foot addition to MMC’s Grove Street facility, which stands on Grove between Pine and Poplar streets, were announced in the spring of 2008.

“The goal was obviously to upgrade what services we already had to make the facility newer and better while moving toward our goal of providing state-of-the-art surgeries,” Tolbert explained. “We’ll now have a center to showcase that.”

Cataracts are just the tip of the surgical iceberg at the new center.

With two new operating rooms expanding the capacity for surgery and 28 patient care areas providing more space than is presently needed, to cite just two examples, the facility has been built with the future in mind. “In the cost-containing world, you’ll see a lot of procedures done as outpatient,” Kantz said confidently.

A whole new day

Back in the day — Friday, to be exact — windowless surroundings and a floor-and-a-half elevator ride had been part of the experience for each patient undergoing outpatient surgery.

Starting Monday, everything will be on the same floor. A much brighter, more cheerful floor, where patients will smoothly move from preparation bays to operating rooms to the acute recovery area and then back to the bays, where they’ll complete their recovery.

During Thursday’s tours of the facility, “we’ve heard a lot of staff talking about the happy environment,” Rehabilitation Coordinator Anne White said of the multicolor scheme featuring vibrantly-painted walls and even brighter, more vibrantly-tiled floors. “I think this environment is more conducive to healing and moving forward.”

After coming in through the new entrance, outpatient surgical patients will register while their family members wait in a bright, sunny atrium. As the patients start making their way to the locker room, where storage lockers and private dressing cubicles await, the real color show begins.

“We love the colors,” Tolbert said. “We love the wide-openness of it. We love the natural light — and now we can look outside. I can’t wait for patients to start coming — because they’re going to love it.”

And that is exactly what Denise Johnson, MMC’s chief medical officer, hopes will happen.

“We really designed it with the patient in mind,” Johnson said. “How easy it’s going to be for the patient to get in here. How efficient it’s going to be for the people who are taking care of the patient. And how relaxing and comforting it’s going to be for the patients when they’re being taken care of here.”

Mary Spicer can be reached at 724-6370 or by e-mail at