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Saint Francis breaks ground on major expansion project

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Shawn Roll-Huston, left, Nathan Bahr and Matt Underwood help lift the statue of St. Francis of Assisi from its pedestal in the fountain at Saint Francis Medical Center Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012 after a groundbreaking ceremony. The statue stands five feet, three inches to the top of the crucifix. The front entrance will be closed Dec. 4 as the $127 million expansion and renovation project begins.
(Fred Lynch) [Order this photo]
A new era was ushered in Wednesday at Saint Francis Medical Center with the groundbreaking for its $127 million "Building on Excellence" project.

The project, which has a target completion date of June 2016, calls for a new, updated main entrance, five-story patient tower, a Women and Children's Pavilion and an Orthopedic and Neurosciences Center. It will add more than 217,000 square feet to the medical center, bringing it to 1.6 million square feet.

"This is a significant milestone for health care in the region," said Dennis Marchi, chairman of the board of directors at Saint Francis. "We are becoming more developed and innovative while other hospitals are being battered by the economy and health care reform."

The milestone is not without changes. One that patients and visitors should be aware of begins Tuesday with the closure of hospital entrances No. 1 and No. 9 because of construction.

Those wanting to go to the Health and Wellness Center will need to use entrance No. 8 on South Mount Auburn Road instead of entrance No. 9 on Saint Francis Drive. Those who want to access the main lobby of the hospital at entrance No. 1 on Saint Francis Drive will need to use entrance No. 2 at the Healing Arts Center lobby.

"We're trying to get the word out on that," said Steve Bjelich, president and CEO of Saint Francis. "We're even putting fliers under the windshield wipers of cars in the hospital parking lot."

This minor inconvenience aside, Bjelich said patients and visitors can expect an enhanced medical experience in the new facility upon completion.

"Patients will be cared for in rooms that will be larger than before," he said, "and they will all be private. Right now we have 65 percent of the rooms in the hospital designated as private, and after completion we will be at 100 percent. While that has become more of a standard at hospitals across the nation, for this region it's a positive new development."

Bjelich added that patients will benefit from the privacy afforded by the new rooms.

"When a loved one is in the hospital and they are sharing a room with another patient, it's difficult sometimes to attain privacy between a patient and their visitors. Also, if the other patient in the room suffers from an infection, there's the risk of it being passed to the other patient or to a visitor. With private rooms, those factors are not an issue anymore."

Marilyn Curtis, vice president of professional services at Saint Francis Medical Center, agreed having private rooms will improve the health care experience for patients.

"We have large, loving families in Southeast Missouri," Curtis said. "They like to visit their relatives when they are in the hospital. In a private room, if the doctor needs to talk with them about a serious matter, there won't be another family there for the other patient who can hear everything. There will be no need to step out into the hall."

Curtis added the larger rooms also will allow for a family member to spend the night at the hospital.

"They can do that now," she said, "but it's tight. The new rooms will have plenty of space for them to rest in along with a comfortable couch."

Visitors also will benefit from the direct and consistent approach found in the design of the new facility.

"There won't be any zigzagging back-and-forth between annexes," Curtis said. "Also, the elevators will be marked for visitor or patient usage. This way, visitors won't have to be in an elevator with a patient they don't know who is in a gown or is connected to a machine."

According to Curtis, the improvements mean one thing: providing quality health care for St. Francis' patients.

Expansion plans were designed with input from the hospital medical staff. Thirty-five physicians were involved in the process, which included more than 1,000 hours spent by staff discussing ideas and options.



Pertinent address:

211 Saint Francis Drive, Cape Girardeau, Mo.

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Welcome to soon to be "Cape St. Francis Girardeau Missouri"

-- Posted by gunn1217 on Wed, Nov 28, 2012, at 12:25 PM

I think the project is called "Building on Excellence," not "Building on Expansion."

-- Posted by ScaliaFan on Wed, Nov 28, 2012, at 12:46 PM

All of the expansion and improvement subsidized by the property taxpayers of Cape Girardeau. Can I get a "Thank You?"

-- Posted by semowasp on Wed, Nov 28, 2012, at 2:20 PM

supported by property tax? I don't think so.

-- Posted by insider63785 on Wed, Nov 28, 2012, at 4:29 PM

I have experienced and extreme increase in medical fees since the hospital acquired the vast majority of the areas doctors practices. I have written the hospital concerning this matter on more than one ocassion, but never received a response. The administration apparently has no time to answer objections, and may feel that the locals have no choice but to pay whatever is billed, but I will certainly travel to St. Louis for any treatments in the future.

The greed must stop!!

-- Posted by arrestthem on Wed, Nov 28, 2012, at 6:16 PM

For those who work in the medical field, but do not wish to work for sfmc, the choices are becoming limited. I too would prefer medical care in Stl. More choices of physicians, hospitals, and surgery centers. And they are not all owned by sfmc!

-- Posted by backinginthedoor on Wed, Nov 28, 2012, at 8:31 PM

What!!! The little ole St Louis metropolitan area has more hospitals, medical centers, and doctors than megatropolis Cape Girardeau? Who would've thunk it.

-- Posted by FreedomFadingFast on Wed, Nov 28, 2012, at 9:08 PM

St. Louis, or even Memphis are obvious choices for acute medical care. I'm not sure why sfmc feels the need to do this because some patients do appreciate semi-private rooms. This is occuring at a time when medical care is becoming advanced enough that overnight stays in the hospital are becoming more and more unnecessary. If somebody in a rural hospital needs significant care, we should be shipping them to the bigger hospitals in St. Louis where physicians are more experienced in treating complicated cases.

-- Posted by Beaker on Wed, Nov 28, 2012, at 9:32 PM

According to the county collector St Francis pays no property tax, even though it enjoys all of the government services funded by same. This is also true for Cape's other two largest employers, SEMO and Southeast. One may choose not to call this a subsidy, others do.

-- Posted by semowasp on Thu, Nov 29, 2012, at 6:03 AM

We have also seen our doctor join the SFMC umbrella and yes, the pricing has gone up quite a bit. We were even advised to the higher cost of labwork done there, and my doctor, knowing my financial situation, advised me that it was MY option to have labwork done at their (SFMC) lab or go elsewhere (Southeast Lab). We chose Southeast and it was less expensive. I don't think we should blame SFMC though...it's the doctor's choice as to whether to keep their own practice or not.

-- Posted by Catbert on Thu, Nov 29, 2012, at 7:08 AM

Much cheaper in St Louis no doubt about that and good care and some of the best doctors in the world.

-- Posted by swampeastmissouri on Thu, Nov 29, 2012, at 7:42 AM

I guess no one ever thought about what SFMC does for the local economy. In my opinion, generally speaking, what's good for Saint Francis is good for Cape Girardeau.

I have concerns about the higher costs associated with physicians that are now under the SFMC umbrella. Unfortunately this is a national trend, not a local one, because the same thing is happening here in St. Louis at hospitals like Saint Anthony's that have significantly expanded the scope of their relationship with physicians that are on-staff there.

I'm not sure what can be done about that. But I think it's not productive to criticize Saint Francis, SoutheastHEALTH, and Southeast Missouri State University for their tax-exempt status, when they truly drive the economic engine for Cape Girardeau and pump untold millions into the local economy. Cape would really be just another sleepy place on the river without these institutions. So I'm glad to see Saint Francis expand, and I believe the quality of care there is a good thing, because there are many procedures that can be done there or at Southeast Hospital so area residents don't have to drive to St. Louis or Memphis.

-- Posted by SEMO2STL on Thu, Nov 29, 2012, at 8:46 AM

SEMO2STL: you are the only one in this thread so far that get's it IMO

-- Posted by chinook on Thu, Nov 29, 2012, at 8:53 AM

It's much cheaper in St. Louis because there are choices in both the medical facility, as well as a wider breadth of health insurance companies and networks. The numbers speak for themselves. In this town, one trauma center, and one main health insurance (UHC) that does not even have sfmc on their network. With a rural hospital attempting to provide services to meet their level care responsibilities, and a fraction of the people compared to a metropolitan hospital in St. Louis or Memphis, it makes sense that the cost of care is higher as the cost of development and equipment gets spread across those who use their services. A 90 minute drive to St. Anthony's in south county may be worth it, especially if you live up north around the fruitland exit.

-- Posted by Beaker on Thu, Nov 29, 2012, at 8:55 AM

SEMO@STL: What incredibly insightful comments! Indeed, you are one of the few who does understand how the hospitals, medical community, and the university contribute to the economy of this area. There are far too many closed minded residents in this area - who complain about any progress, rather than celebrating. Does anyone realize how many jobs these construction projects are supporting? How many dollars this will inject into the economy? How many families this will support? No one is forcing anyone to use the medical personnel or facilities here. If you are so unhappy - get in your car and drive to St. Louis. After your time and price of gasoline - how much are you saving. And, if you happen to be in a serious accident, or are having a heart attack, or a stroke - enjoy that two hour trip to St. Louis. Hope you don't hit any traffic. The people in this community need to support the community, not continue to cast negative comments about everything.

-- Posted by ParkerDaws on Thu, Nov 29, 2012, at 5:02 PM

Why should those town property taxpayers, and apparently there are many, be forced to subsidize the three S's? If the casino lives up to expectations and provides jobs and outsiders paying the sales tax, should it be granted tax exempt status too?

-- Posted by semowasp on Fri, Nov 30, 2012, at 7:21 AM

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Statue removed for Saint Francis expansion
The statue of St. Francis of Assisi is moved from the front of Saint Francis Medical Center to accommodate the $127 million, two-phase "Building on Excellence" expansion and renovation project which is slated for completion in 2016. The statue has had three homes since 1882.
Map of pertinent addresses
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