Ambulatory center focus of conversation at hospital forum

By TAYLOR MURCHISON-GALLAGHER

STAFF WRITER

The quarterly Bristol Hospital Presidential Forum was held on Tuesday, Sept. 25, and the panel discussed the ambulatory care center being constructed downtown.

Sitting on the forum panel were hospital board of directors members John Leone, Jr., and John Lodovico, Jr.; Hilary Thomas, representing Jones Lang Lasalle; Edward Henry, executive director of the Bristol Hospital Multi-Specialty Group; Stephen Barry, president of Rendina Healthcare Real Estate; and, Brian Cich, chief operating officer of Rendina.

President and CEO of Bristol Hospital, Kurt Barwis, introduced Tiffany Morrissey. Morrissey, who served in an administrative position for this project, was doing an administrative fellowship at St. Mary’s Hospital when she met Barwis, and said that “the opportunity presented itself for this building project, and at the time my fellowship was ending so it seemed to be a really natural progression into working here.”

Leone said the concept for the ambulatory care center came from a community needs assessment, which identified a need for “access to service.” Leone referenced the Multi-Specialty Group, saying, “it’s continued to grow,” and “we keep bringing in new physicians on a regular basis and they were scattered throughout the community.”

“[Barwis] looked at ways that we could bring those facilities together in an area where we could bring all our major doctors into a building that we can serve the community better,” said Leone. “…It would be much easier for most people to come to one building where they can get most all services that they need.”

Similarly, Henry said, “it’s the ability for providers to collaborate with each other,” that motivated Bristol Hospital to house multiple specialties in this one facility.

“The design of the building really allows us to be flexible,” said Henry. “In this design, it’s completely streamlined and we can expand, so, I think it also enhances the access to care amongst those specialists as well.”

Access to care, from the patient’s perspective, was one of the driving forces behind the building design as well, according to Henry.

“I think that really a critical element is ease of patient use. Patients want to come in, get done what they need to, and get on with life,” said Henry. “What a patient wants is the ability to come in, quickly get registered, move to the next location, be seen, and quickly get your diagnosis and care.”

Thomas explained that Jones Lang Lasalle, JLL, a “professional services organization that specializes in commercial real estate,” was brought onto this project in February 2016, “with a scope of work that really had three primary components.”

“One was to conduct due diligence on the land, to figure out are there any issues with the land?” said Thomas. “Two was to do programming and what’s called a basis of design, and that’s basically figuring out what you want to build, and what’s going to go in the building… And then number three was to find a developer… and to do it through a competitive process.”

JLL developed a list of 32 companies “that wanted to be considered for the job.” Thomas explained that JLL worked with the hospital board of directors to create criteria for a short list, which ended up being comprised of 8 companies.

“The criteria that we came up with was an ability to perform as an at-risk developer; strong qualifications and relevant experience; a solid capital source; and the ability to team up with some local players,” said Thomas. “The hospital and the board felt that it was really important to have local presence, to bring jobs into the community.”

After putting out a request for proposal, JLL reviewed the proposals, interviewed the companies, and narrowed the list from eight to four.

“The team of Rendina and O&G – O&G being the local partner – they were the right fit, and they had all of the components that the hospital was looking for, and so they were selected,” said Thomas.

Barry believes part of the reason Rendina was chosen is due to their experience and track record.

“Rendina’s developed nearly 7 million square feet in 16 states now of outpatient facilities, we focus exclusively on healthcare, and more specifically, the outpatient space within healthcare,” said Barry. “When you look at our track record, we’ve developed now $2 billion worth of medical facilities without ever defaulting on a loan, a perfect track record from that standpoint… not many developers can say that they have a perfect track record.”

And though the hospital was dealing with a $7.5 million loss, Barry and Cich both said that Rendina believed in this project.

“Yes, there was a $7.5 million loss, but the thing that always stuck out to me was when we were going back to our offices in Florida, talking about this project, this organization never acted like an organization that was going to take a $7.5 million loss,” said Cich. “You were looking forward, and this project was about looking forward, and you could sense that in the team… everything was a stepping stone to the next level… we saw the vision and we saw why the loss was being taken and what the next steps were.”

The hospital’s fiscal year ended on Sunday, Sept. 30. Barwis, announced that the hospital would finish the year with a “profit from operations for the entire system,” which described as “an incredible turnaround” from an approximately $7.5 million loss the prior year.

Barwis attributed the profitable year to “making tremendous investment” in startup physician practices, and the building of the Senior Behavioral Health Unit which houses fifteen beds and is currently at capacity.

“There’s tremendous change, and we’re not stopping,” said Barwis, who said there are many things that the hospital is “going after.”

PHOTOS by JANELLE MORELLI

Leave a Reply