Community Hospital Gearing Up for Big Changes

Last year’s spring announcement that Community Health Network was investing $175 million in building a new hospital on the Community Hospital East location generated much excitement for east side residents. Then, at the end of the year, the state announced plans to build a state-of-the-art neuro-diagnostic institute on the Community East campus, created even more of a stir.
Scott Teffeteller, President of Community Health Network East Region, oversees Community Hospital East, and is excited about the changes taking place on the campus. “The total investment at Community East will be, combined, about $325 million.”
Since early February, the first phase of change has been quietly taking place at the hospital. Interior demolition has begun on the three buildings slated to come down. “Building 5, which housed administrative staff, has been cleared out and we’re salvaging everything that we can,” Teffeteller explained. Staff have been shifted to other parts of the building, and demolition of the Building 5 is scheduled in a few weeks. Demolition of three other buildings on the campus will take place over the next two years, while construction of a new, state-of-the-art patient tower begins. “We will have the same amount of beds, but the rooms will be larger. Our goal is improve the patient experience, and continuing to provide high-quality care.” Focus groups that include patients and caregivers have helped shape the design — and even the colors — that will be used in the new facilities.
In addition, the Emergency department will move to the west side of the property, The new hospital towers will be built on the same footprint as the existing hospital. “We didn’t want to disrupt the neighborhood,” Teffesteller said. Parking and access to the Emergency room will be focused on the west side of the building, while ambulatory patient care would be concentrated on the Ritter Ave. side of the building.
Innovation is nothing new at Community Hospital East. Founded in 1956 as a result of a huge fundraising effort started by volunteers in the community, the hospital on the corner of 16th and Ritter has always been ahead of the curve. The original building’s air conditioning was quite a novelty at the time; when the Towers were built in 1964, the innovative design of having a central nursing station and rooms surrounding it was one of the first of its kind in the country. Beyond the campus, Community Hospital East has been an important part of east side neighborhood, contributing to eastside redevelopment as part of 75 organizations that push for reinvestment, beautification projects, and community involvement.
Moving to a “medical mall” concept has taken extensive planning, and “hopscotching” staff and patients to provide continuity of care, Teffeteller noted. When complete, he said that Community Hospital East will be a point of pride for the east side, both as an innovative medical facility and as a community supporter. “We’ll be prepared for the next 50 years of medical care.”
“I am so honored to work with such an outstanding staff at Community East,” Teffeteller said. “They have provided outstanding care to the community for many, many years.”