Hospitals are an essential part of local municipalities. For local residents, having the option of pursuing advanced healthcare services at a nearby hospital can drastically reduce the travel time needed to reach help. What of the actual construction process, though? What factors are taken into consideration when a hospital is in its planning stages, and how does a municipality decide to move forward with the process?
First, hospital administrators and associated business executives (such as hospital trustees) must be aware of how much capital they have available. Whether the hospital is backed by federal funding (such as the Federal Housing Administration or Medicare), a collection of local banks, or national banks is a crucial decision that will impact the conditions under which the large initial loan will be paid back. For an individual home owner or even small business owners, the initial decision of funding sources may not carry as much weight. When one considers the average size of new hospitals (approximately 55,000 square feet), however, as well as the fact that hospitals typically employ hundreds of local residents, secure funding sources become extremely important.
These funding sources may also be contingent on certain building procedures during the construction process. For example, a bank may insist on using green building practices during construction. Pursuing the most energy efficient equipment (light bulbs, refrigeration equipment, hospital machines, etc.) over an entire hospital can result in substantial savings on overhead, which would allow hospital administrators to repay the initial loan more easily. Another essential consideration is how hospital administrators plan to address future growth. How might the local community expand in the future? What socioeconomic and age brackets might form the base of the hospital’s clientele? Do most local residents have access to health insurance and if so, what health insurance provider is predominant in the area? How many local residents have purchased insurance under the mandates of the Affordable Care Act? These questions will help in creating specific wards within the hospital, as well as in estimating potential patient turnover and occupancy (necessary figures for planning the total number of patient beds).
Finally, hospital administrators should attempt to interact with the local community as early as possible. Which small business owners have purchased health insurance through the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) under the Affordable Care Act, and do these businesses have enough capital to continue supporting their employees? Asking questions of the public with regard to their anticipated health needs is important not only for establishing relationships with the community, but for accurately forecasting possible future growth for the hospital.