PORTLAND — Northern Light Mercy Hospital is streamlining its services for patients seeking specialized medical procedures that don’t require overnight care in a new building set to open in November.
The $83.8 million project is a key development in the expansion of its medical center, which consolidates long standing facilities in Portland to Northern Light Health’s campus on Fore River Parkway and includes renovations to its medical office and hospital.
The 35,000-square foot facility is located next to the existing hospital, and will effectively replace operations at its current facility on State Street. Northern Light Health has already moved a number of departments to renovated spaces in its medical office center. The building will be open to patients in early November, with phased openings scheduled for each department.
The first floor contains waiting and exam rooms in units for gastroenterology, endoscopy and wound care. The second floor is dedicated to outpatient surgical procedures, including 13 recovery bays and high-tech integrated operating rooms.
The streamlining of services builds on a running industry trend away from inpatient services and toward outpatient care that has been exacerbated by the pandemic, according to hospital leadership.
“We’re seeing high inpatient census at every hospital, not just the big medical centers but the smaller community hospitals and rural hospitals,” Northern Light Mercy Hospital Vice President Charlie Therrien said.
Hospital leaders touted patient ease and convenience as core design inspirations, focusing on shared administrative spaces and workflow efficiency, which they said should help reduce costs. Northern Light Mercy Hospital employs 1,402 people.
Design at today’s medical facilities considers staff footsteps through an entire clinical process. Hospital leaders look to reduce the number of footsteps for medical tasks to help streamline workflow, sometimes by the thousand, “by making simple design changes and paying attention to the flow of the patient and the staff through the process,” said Northern Light senior physician executive John Southall.
The building’s two-year construction plan began in spring of 2020. After convening with designers, engineers and clinical teams in the early days of the pandemic, Northern Light added $750,000 worth of mechanical changes to increase the airflow in patient rooms and recovery bays, Therrien said.
Northern Light sold its building on State Street to the local development group NewHeight Redfern, who has been approved by the city to renovate it into several hundred housing units. The medical center has begun to phase out operations at State Street and plans to turn it over fully to the development firm in February 2022.
Mercy Hospital was founded in 1918 by the Sisters of Mercy in response to the influenza pandemic known as the Spanish Flu. The hospital was originally located at Congress and State streets but moved into the current hospital building on State Street in 1941.
Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the facility’s projected opening date.