TRMC breaks ground on third expansion

James "Jim" Taylor Folse
October 21, 2008
October 23
October 23, 2008
James "Jim" Taylor Folse
October 21, 2008
October 23
October 23, 2008

Thibodaux Regional Medical Center’s leaders shoveled the first patch of dirt to mark the launch of the hospital’s third expansion at Thursday’s groundbreaking.

“This will make Thibodaux Regional more efficient, productive and comfortable for all our patients, guests and team members,” said Gregory Stock, the hospital’s chief executive officer. “A hospital is supposed to be a refuge for people in the area.”

The third phase will be located at the south end of the hospital in the building that houses the emergency room, food service department, gift shop and chapel.

Records show that the building hasn’t been renovated to this degree since it was built in 1973.

The new construction will cover more than 60,000 square feet.

Of that, 13,580 square feet will be used to triple the size of the emergency room, expand the dining facility, reconstruct the front entrance and renovate the gift shop and chapel.

The emergency room and the food service department were most in need of renovations, according to Stock. For a long time, the patients have shown dissatisfaction with them.

“Patient satisfaction is key,” he said. “Combine that with a first-class facility, then we have a product that we can be proud of.”

Dr. Mike Owens, who heads the emergency room, said the new plans have been in the works for nearly five years.

“We understand fully what the community concerns are when it comes to the emergency room,” he said. “They want shorter wait times and quality care.”

With the new design, the hospital will combat overcrowding, while trying to reduce patient turnaround times.

To improve the food services department, the hospital has partnered with the John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University to offer patients and staff more innovative cuisine choices.

When asked about the details of the partnership, Stock said there are three to four levels to it that will be unveiled once the project is complete around 2010.

“Our goal is to provide the highest quality dietary services, state-of-the-art food preparation and serving areas for our guests and patients,” he said.

Jake Giardina, chairman of the hospital board, said the south project will not only support the growth of quality patient care Thibodaux provides to the region, but it will have a significant, positive economic impact on the community and the region as a whole.

The economic impact to the region is estimated to be between $150 and $175 million.

Getting to this point has not been easy for the hospital. With the stricter building codes since hurricanes Katrina and Rita and advancements in technology, the hospital had to hold off on its expansion plans.

Prior to 2005 the estimated cost of the expansion of the third phase was $13 million. Now it’s projected to be slightly over $26 million.

However, Stock said the delay had an upside because it gave them an opportunity to redesign the improvements.

“Thibodaux Regional is not like the country hospital it used to be,” he said.

“This new design has the patients’ needs in mind. Every aspect of this project has and will help us better serve our patients, their families and our region.”

“You can build anything, but the reality of it is, if there are not good people working in the establishment, it still doesn’t amount to anything,” he added.

Community members and parish dignitaries joined the Thibodaux Regional staff for the groundbreaking ceremony, including Parish Administrator Crystal Chaisson who stood in for Parish President Charlotte Randolph, who had a prior engagement.

Chaisson said having a great hospital in the area gives the community a peace of mind that their family will be taken care of.

Hospital administrators predicted that the new changes will complement the prior two upgrades that included a new Women’s Center, Heart & Vascular Center, parking garage, medical office building and patient tower.

“Once the south project is completed we will see a cohesion that we can be proud of,” Owens said.

Thibodaux Regional Medical Center unveiled the hospital’s newest expansion Thursday. Pictured from left are Parish Administrator Crystal Chaisson, TRMC board members Cleveland Hill, Jody Plaisance, Jake Giardina and Danny Cavell, CEO Gregory Stock and Dr. Mike Owens, head of the emergency room department. * Photo by SOPHIA RUFFIN