December 12, 2019

New McLaren location in West Branch opens


WEST BRANCH — The new McLaren location in West Branch officially opened its doors at 7 a.m. Nov. 7.

The Herald was invited to a tour of the facility Nov. 6, along with other community stakeholders.

“We’re very proud to show this off,” said Magen Samyn, regional vice president of marketing and business development. “It’s not our asset, it’s now the community’s asset.”

The new facility, which was the old Kmart, features a free-standing emergency center with 10 private patient rooms, including two trauma/resuscitation rooms equipped with telehealth capabilities. It will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

One feature of the emergency department is the telestroke program, which is done through a robot located near a patient’s bed.

“If we get a patient that is experiencing stroke symptoms, we have the ability to activate our stroke team,” Patient Care Services Manager Anthony Bair said. “We have neuro teams standing by, and they can do a complete examination through that robot in coordination with the ER physician and nurse at the bedside, and make a determination of medications or some other type of process or procedure that needs to be done, and we get the patient to wherever they need to get to as soon as possible.”

The neurology team members, who are part of the McLaren system, only have 10 minutes to respond. Samyn said McLaren exceeds expectations when it comes to response time, because seconds count.

Phase one of the new facility will also feature on-site imaging services, including x-rays, CT scans, ultrasounds, nuclear medicine and an on-site laboratory.

“Our focus will be on delivering excellent patient-centered, quality emergency care to the Northern Michigan community,” said McLaren Regional President Clarence Sevillian. “Our free-standing emergency department has the same capabilities as hospital-based ERs but without the same wait.”

Bair and Samyn said having multiple services in one facility gives an important continuity of care — a sort of “one-stop shopping.”

“If we discharge you from the ER and you have a follow-up tomorrow with your primary care physician, you come to the same building and you go down the same hallway, just a different direction,” Bair said.

“And that’s wonderful from a continuity of care standpoint, the fact that your providers, whether it’s emergency department, to our imaging, to our specialists, all have the opportunity to work together and talk to each other every single day,” Samyn added.

She also said no matter who a patient’s primary care provider is, they can come to the McLaren facility for lab work.

Phase two of the building will offer specialty services such as cardiology; orthopedics; hematology/oncology; physical medicine and rehab; physical, occupational and speech therapy; neurosurgery and a 24-hour sleep center.

Bair said most sleep centers are only open at night, but McLaren wanted to accommodate those who work different shifts.

Samyn said McLaren has already had a presence in the West Branch area for decades. As part of phase two, many primary care providers who are already in the community will be relocating to the new facility. These include providers from the Court Street Clinic and Primary Care on Progress Street. She said the Woodland Evergreen Clinic on Court Street and Main Street Clinic on Burgess will remain in their current locations.

Some of the specialty providers who will move to the new building as part of phase two will include Doctors Etha, Levandowski, Ternes, Sierra, Lee, Mahmud, Mouawad, Saylor and Oulai, and Nurse Practitioners Bellinger and Tomczack.

“The timing of our opening worked out well because we had leases expiring and we were able to transition providers to our new location,” Samyn said.

Samyn said it was important to McLaren that it was able to repurpose a building in the community that might have otherwise sat vacant. She gave the example of a Kmart in Bay County that had been vacant for around 20 years, becoming dilapidated and unusable.

“We gutted the building right to the studs and completely renovated and did a new floor plan and built out from concept to completion,” she said. “... We could’ve easily bought a parcel of land, which we did look at ... but for us to decide that we were going to rehab a building so that way the community didn’t have to expand the carbon footprint so to speak, for us to be able to be green and repurpose something so that way we could be part of the fabric of the community... Not many types of companies can fill a building like this. So it was very important for us to partner with the community and make sure that we were doing what was right.”

And overall, it was built with the patients’ experience in mind.

“When you look around and you see what this building looks like compared to what it was, and the buildout of it and the equipment, it wasn’t just to build up walls, it was to make sure that from the moment the patient entered it, that we had the right plan and the right path and made it convenient, and reduced their burden, because when people come into an emergency department, they’re typically not coming in because they want to be here,” Samyn said. “So how do we make it the best user experience that we can? And how do we make sure that the other services, whether it’s lab, or imaging or the specialty clinics, how do we make sure that we have them working well together, again with that patient point of view in mind. So it took a long time, but we’re really excited.”

She said many who previously had to drive to locations like Bay City to see specialists can now come to the West Branch facility.

“It’s going to be a low-cost, high-quality care, and we believe this is what the residents are looking for,” Samyn said.

The building is a little more than 85,000 square feet, with 30,000 square feet set aside for future expansion.

“We do think we’re going to be needing that space for future expansion as our services grow,” Samyn said.

According to the press release, phase one has created 55 jobs in the community, and more are expected with phase two.

McLaren is also continuing to look at ways it can make partnerships within the community, she said. Recently, it provided first aid kits to the local soccer teams, as well as a defibrillator to the West Branch Little League.

“We’re going to try to do as much as possible to have a big impact,” Samyn said.

The public is invited to attend an open house for the new facility Monday, Dec. 2, from 4-6 p.m. with a ribbon-cutting at 4:30 p.m.


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