A moving experience for Grand River Medical Center

Carrie Click
Post Independent Staff

RIFLE – At 6 a.m. Saturday morning, Colorado Department of Transportation workers took down all the blue road signs with giant white “H”s around Rifle indicating where Clagett Memorial Hospital is located, and put up new hospital road signs pointing towards the Grand River Medical Center.

Sign-switching is just one of the hundreds of tiny details that had to be handled when Clagett closed its doors and Grand River Medical Center opened its electronic sliding versions on Saturday. Hospital management even pinpointed the exact moment patients ceased to be taken to Clagett and were directed to Grand River: 7 a.m. Saturday morning.

“You can’t fathom the choreography of this move,” said Rusty Kane-Stevens, the director of quality management, formerly of Clagett and now of Grand River, taking a break in a room piled high with boxes, sitting behind an empty desk in the old hospital on Friday afternoon. “It comes down to minute-by-minute decisions.”

Moving a hospital is different from moving other kinds of businesses – say, a department store or car dealership. Because the hospital’s business is all about maintaining and saving lives, every detail of the move has to be meticulously planned out.

“It’s a whole different deal,” said hospital CEO Pat Howery on Friday, as he paused briefly in Grand River’s new cafeteria. “We’ve spent the last six months getting ready for this move. And it’s a successful move because we’ve pre-planned and organized it with Don Stevens and our staff. A lot of teamwork goes into this.”

Stevens, Kane-Stevens’ husband, is a retired hospital facilities manager whom Howery hired to coordinate the move.

“When planning a move like this, you work backwards,” Stevens said. “We’ve had many sessions with each department in the hospital. We’ve had lots of meetings to make certain the move goes smoothly.”

Part of that planning centers on finely tuned medical equipment.

“Radiology has the biggest challenge,” Kane-Stevens said. “It took four days to move the mammography equipment. The rules on that are so strict we can’t shoot a film until a physicist approves the setup.”

Medical equipment representatives must be called in, too, to make sure all equipment is properly moved.

“They’re all here,” said Kane-Stevens. “G.E., Toshiba, Phillips, Stryker.”

Because hospital staff, from emergency room personnel to on-call nurses, must be able to hit the ground running in the new facility, it was critical that each department essentially moved themselves.

“Every staff member in each department knows where they’ve put items, and how the new hospital is laid out,” said hospital spokeswoman Kris Swanson said. “They know what’s in every drawer.”

On Friday afternoon, there was a sort of melancholic feel at Clagett Memorial Hospital. Hospital namesake Dr. Oscar Clagett’s framed portrait still hung on the wall in the small reception area above the old hospital’s outdated chairs. Staff nurse Linda Waite was at the nurse’s station, overseeing patients who weren’t being moved until after they had their last lab draws the first thing Saturday morning.

“We’ve been through a lot of pain and sorrow in this building,” Waite said, looking around the corridors. “But we’ve had a lot more joy. Yes, we’ll miss this building, but we’re so looking forward to the new building.”

Kane-Stevens said she and most of the management staff moved over to the new hospital about a week ago. She said it’s odd to be in the old hospital and realize the contents of her office are somewhere else.

“Some people, especially those who’ve worked at Clagett for a long time, are sad about leaving,” Kane-Stevens said. “They’re pretty attached. But it’s really nice to have our brand-new digs.”

Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. 518

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