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Outpatient center to improve patient experience

Patients seeking simple, routine procedures from mammograms to cataracts will no longer have to ride the elevators and trek up the halls of the hospital in Haywood County.

Construction of a new $9.3 million outpatient center has been launched on the campus of MedWest Haywood, making health care more convenient and accessible.

“It is going to have such a positive impact for out patients and the region,” said Dr. Al Mina, a general surgeon in Haywood County and one of 20 doctors who invested in the surgery center.

The patient experience will be a better one psychologically as well. Some people have anxiety about entering the hospital, said Mike Poore, CEO of Med-West Health System. A routine colonoscopy has a far more solemn and serious air about it at the hospital, while the outpatient setting will make people more comfortable and at ease.

“It will be less institutional,” Poore said. “If you are having a simple, same-day surgery, you don’t have to go into the hospital.”

Dr. Luis Munoz, a pathologist, said patients needing simple blood work can easily get in and out without traipsing through the hospital to the lab like they do now.

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“You avoid going through the halls where potentially people are ill,” said Munos, also a capital partner for the facility.

Patients who now bypass Haywood and travel to Asheville for outpatient surgery could stay closer to home thanks to the convenience of the new center.

“If I need a couple of items at the store, I don’t go to Super Wal-Mart where I have to walk a quarter mile,” said Dr. David Markoff with Mountain Eye Associates. Instead, he goes where he can park near the door and quickly skirt to the aisle he needs.

Markoff is pleased he will be able to pop down the hall to tell waiting family how a patient is doing, something he can’t do now given the disjointed layout of outpatient services in the hospital, where the family waiting room is several floors away from where the surgeries and procedures are performed.

The Haywood hospital currently has six surgery beds. Four will remain in the hospital. Major surgeries — those requiring a stay at the hospital for recovery like a hip replacement or spine surgery — will still be done in the hospital’s surgery rooms.

The new outpatient center will have two surgery rooms, two minor procedure rooms and one endoscopy room, along with other outpatient services like MRIs, CT scans, lab and blood work, wound care and physical therapy.

Separating major surgeries from minor, outpatient ones will make for a smoother workflow, Poore said.

When elective or routine procedures share the same suite of operating rooms as emergency surgeries, as is the case now, patients getting an eyelid lift, for example, get bumped from the schedule to make way for a woman in labor needing an emergency C-section.

Balancing the flow of rooms can be difficult, Poore said.

“If you were an air traffic controller, it’s like having the space shuttle landing at the same time as a prop plane,” Poore said.

Phyllis Prevost, a Waynesville philanthropist who has made several sizeable contributions to the hospital, said the hospital has been running out of room and a dedicated outpatient center is desperately needed.

“The citizens of Haywood County are growing older every year,” Prevost said.

Prevost is particularly excited about the Women’s Center.

The Women’s Center will have its own entrance and will serve as a central location for mammograms, breast imaging and breast MRIs. It will also house the nurse navigator program, which works with women when an abnormality is detected in their mammogram.

“They hold that patient’s hand through the process and coordinate that patient’s care,” said Teresa Reynolds, chief operating officer of MedWest-Haywood.

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